Hezbollah mediated release of Lebanese 'spy' held in Iran

Hezbollah mediated release of Lebanese 'spy' held in Iran

Hezbollah mediated release of Lebanese 'spy' held in Iran

Nizar Zakka, the Lebanese IT professional detained in Iran, landed in Beirut on Tuesday, bringing an end to a near four-year ordeal.

The IT expert was on a plane en route to Beirut, accompanied by Gen. Ibrahim Abbas, chief of Lebanon's General Security Directorate, an official in the Lebanese capital said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier Tuesday, an Iranian judiciary official confirmed that Tehran has agreed to hand over Zakka, an internet freedom advocate, to Lebanese officials.

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

A year after the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers ushered in a wary thaw between Washington and Tehran, five USA citizens were freed in a prisoner exchange.

Zakka is expected to head from the airport to the presidential palace where he will be received by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who had personally requested his release.

At a joint press conference with Ibrahim after the meeting, Zakka blasted Iran, saying he was subjected to "kidnapping, arbitrary detention and a show trial".

The statement claimed that Zakka, who graduated from the Riverside Military Academy of Gainesville in Georgia, had "deep links" with USA military and intelligence agencies.

In April, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters he was proposing "serious dialogue" with Washington on a possible prisoner swap without saying if it would include Zakka.

Zakka, a computer scientist and Internet freedom advocate, was detained in Tehran after attending a conference at the invitation of the Iranian government. The 52-year-old was being handed over to Lebanese officials.

He was held in Evin Prison, notorious for holding political prisoners, dual-nationals and academics.

The United States subsequently called for his release.

"This is in no way approved by the government", Molaverdi said.

Latest News