Tue, 25 Jun 2019

A Lebanese national imprisoned in Iran on charges of spying for the United States has been released and is heading to Lebanon, the country's security service says.

The Lebanese security service tweeted on June 11 that security chief General Abbas Ibrahim was 'en route from Tehran to Lebanon, accompanied by Nizar Zakka, after his release by Iranian authorities.'

A photo attached to the tweet showed the two men sitting in a plane.

Earlier, an unidentified Lebanese official was quoted as saying that Zakka was on a plane heading to Beirut with Abbas.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said an Iranian court had agreed on Zakka's 'conditional release,' adding that the man would be handed over to Lebanese authorities.

The spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, did not give details of the conditions of Zakka's release.

Lebanon's president and foreign minister had urged Iran to grant an amnesty to Zakka, and Iranian media reported on June 10 that he was to be released 'only because of the respect and dignity' Iran has for Iran-backed Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

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

In 2016, the 52-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison and handed a $4.2 million fine after a court convicted him of espionage -- a charge he denied.

With reporting by AP, AFP, 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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