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Iran Releases US Resident Held 'More Than 1,350 Days'

Lebanese national Nizar Zakka had been held 4 years
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2019 6:03 AM CDT
This 2013 photo provided by the Friends of Nizar Zakka shows Zakka delivering a speech in Jordan.   (Courtesy of Friends of Nizar Zakka group via AP, File)

(Newser) – Iran on Tuesday freed an IT expert accused of spying for the US. The DC attorney for Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national who has permanent residency in the US, says he's now out of prison after four years, reports the Washington Post. "After more than 1,350 days in captivity in Iran, we have received excellent news: Mr. Nizar Zakka is a free man," says Jason Poblete. The 52-year-old was being handed over to Lebanese officials. The development comes at a time of increased tension between the US and Tehran, though NBC News notes that it's unclear whether this might lead to the release of Americans and other foreigners held by Iran.

Zakka was arrested in 2015 in Tehran after going there for a conference at the invitation of the Iranian government. He received a 10-year sentence, though he has always denied being a spy. Zakka ran the Arab ICT Organization, which advocates for tech and internet freedom in Arab nations. The US has pressed for Zakka's release over the years, though Iran is portraying the move as one of goodwill between itself and Lebanon, per the New York Times. Still, in 2016, Iranian officials said strained relations with the US was the primary reason for Zakka's detention. (Read more Iran stories.)

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