Iran frees Lebanese man, US resident imprisoned for spying

FILE Ziad Zakka brother of Nizar Zakka who is imprisoned in Iran shows

Iran has agreed to hand over a USA permanent resident imprisoned for years in Tehran to Lebanese officials, an Iranian judiciary official said Tuesday, providing the first official confirmation that Nizar Zakka would be sent back to his native Lebanon.

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

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.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Nizar Zakka, who has U.S. permanent residency, would be handed over to the Lebanese authorities.

Iran on Tuesday freed an IT expert accused of spying for the US.

An Iranian judiciary spokesman says Iran has agreed to hand over a USA permanent resident imprisoned for years to Lebanese officials.

Zakka flashed reporters the victory sign and hugged his brother Ziad before he went into the meeting with Aoun, who had personally requested his release.

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"Some local media has speculated that Zakka's release would also involve the freeing of another Lebanese citizen in the United States".

"After more than 1,350 days in captivity in Iran, we have received excellent news: Mr. Nizar Zakka is a free man", his Washington-based lawyer, Jason Poblete, said in a statement.

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

He was arrested on the way to the airport and later sentenced to 10 years behind bars on espionage charges in a closed-door trial.

At least 11 dual and foreign nationals, or Iranians with foreign residencies, are imprisoned in Iran as of this month, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Shahindokht Molaverdi, an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani who as a vice president invited Zakka to Iran, told the AP in September that Iran's government had "failed" to help Zakka.

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