Iran to hand over detained U.S. resident to Lebanon

Mideast Iran Lebanese Detained

Mideast Iran Lebanese Detained

A Lebanese businessman detained in Tehran since 2015 on charges of collaborating against Iran arrived in Beirut on Tuesday, after his government secured his release.

Meanwhile, head of the Lebanese General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim left Beirut on Sunday heading for Tehran to complete efforts to release Zakka.

Ibrahim told Reuters news agency the release was not based on a wider prisoner swap.

Hezbollah did not comment on report.

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun had lobbied for Iran to grant him an amnesty, and officials in Tehran said his release was partly due to the country's close ties with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

Nizar Zakka, 52, who had been living in Washington, DC, was detained in Tehran in September 2015 after being invited by the Iranian government to attend a conference. But he never boarded his flight.

Zakka operated the Arab ICT Organization, which promotes information technology and Internet freedom in the Middle East. Zakka was arrested by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison on spying charges.

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She is declining to say whether the USA government was involved in securing Zakka's release.

In 2016, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $4.2m for espionage.

"A court has accepted the condition of freedom of Nizar Zakka and he will be handed over to Lebanese officials", judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said, according to the judiciary's Mizan news agency.

Esmaili stressed Zakka's release was within "the frame of the law".

Zakka later met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail and received a phone call from Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. However, Aoun's office told Al Jazeera that an official statement will be made upon Zakka's arrival in Beirut.

Zakka is one of several prisoners with either dual nationality or links to the West held in Iran. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other rights groups have reported allegations of torture and ill-treatment there, including solitary confinement and denial of access to medical care.

"Nizar looks forward to reuniting with family and friends", he said.

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