Iran to hand over United States resident accused of spying to Lebanon

Iran Lebanon US

Iran Lebanon US

The June 10 report came after the semiofficial Fars news agency reported that technology expert Nizar Zakka will be handed over to Lebanon's Hizballah militant group.

Iran has received an amnesty request from Beirut for a Lebanese citizen who was detained in 2015 for "collaborating against the state" but has yet to make a decision on the case, an Iranian judiciary spokesman said on Sunday.

"The release of Nizar Zakka will take place on Tuesday after the completion of the judicial proceedings, which are almost done", Ibrahim said. "This is done exclusively because of the respect for and dignity of (Hezbollah leader) Hassan Nasrallah", the source told Fars. Hezbollah is the most powerful armed force in Lebanon as well as being part of the governing coalition in Beirut.

Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born internet freedom advocate, is one of a series of prisoners with either dual nationality or links to the West held in Iran.

Earlier in the day, Iranian state television reported that Zakka "will be released in the coming hours".

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He was detained in September 2015 in Tehran after attending a government-organized conference. Iranian media said later he had been detained by Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for alleged ties to USA security services.

At the end of 2017, Iranian courts confirmed his 10-year sentence on appeal, as well as that of an American and two Iranian-Americans accused of "collaboration" with the United States. "We welcome the release of any unjustly held foreign detainees in Iran".

In 2016, The Associated Press news agency reported that Zakka's supporters wrote to then-Secretary of State John Kerry stating that Zakka had travelled to Iran "with the knowledge and approval of the US State Department, and his trip was funded by grants" from it.

Lebanon's Foreign Ministry had on Tuesday announced that Tehran had asked Lebanese authorities to send a delegation to Tehran for Zakka's repatriation.

A year after a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers ushered in a wary thaw between the United States and Tehran, Iranian authorities freed five USA citizens in a prisoner exchange. However, U.S. -Iranian tensions have risen anew since Washington pulled out of the nuclear pact in 2018.

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