Sun, 16 Jun 2019

A Lebanese national who is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Iran on charges of spying for the United States 'will be released in the coming hours,' Iranian state television reports.

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.

It said that Zakka is to be released 'only because of the respect and dignity' Iran has for Iran-backed Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A top Lebanese security official is reportedly in Tehran to secure Zakka's release, which has been anticipated in recent days.

Zakka had been a Washington, D.C. resident and a U.S. Green Card holder.

The 52-year-old was head of an Arab IT organization that advocated for Internet development in the Middle East.

He was detained in September 2015 in Tehran after attending a government-organized conference.

Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison and handed a $4.2 million fine in 2016 after a court convicted him of espionage.

He denied the charges.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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