Iran frees U.S. permanent resident
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/11/19, 11:22 am
Iran on Tuesday released a Lebanese businessman who is a U.S. permanent resident. Iranian authorities have held Nizar Zakka since 2015 on accusations of spying for the United States. He received a 10-year sentence in 2016. Lebanon’s General Security Directorate released a photo Tuesday of Zakka with Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Abbas, the directorate chief, on a plane heading for Beirut, Lebanon’s capital.
Zakka’s release occurred within “the frame of the law,” Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said through the Mizan news agency. “We reviewed the [Lebanese] president’s request through the Supreme National Security Council. Also, the Lebanese Hezbollah group considered the approval of his freedom as prudent.” Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed Islamist political party in Lebanon.
Zakka is one of several dual citizens Iran has detained on spying charges. Relations have remained tense between the United States and Iran since President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions on the country.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that the United States “cannot expect to stay safe” after it launched what he called an economic war against Iran. “Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it,” he said.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.