Lebanese IT specialist Zakka released by Iran

Lebanese IT specialist Zakka released by Iran

A Lebanese businessman detained in Tehran for more than four years on charges of collaborating against Iran arrived in Beirut on Tuesday after his government secured his release.

Nizar Zakka, 52, an information technology specialist with U.S. permanent residency, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined $4.2 million in 2016. He denied the charges, while Iranian media have described him as a U.S. spy.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun had lobbied for Iran to grant him amnesty, and officials in Tehran said his release was partly due to the country’s close ties with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.

Zakka met with Aoun after landing in Beirut accompanied by Lebanese security chief Abbas Ibrahim.

Visibly shaken, he thanked Lebanese officials and his family profusely. He said he did not want to “go into details about false accusations and mock trials”.

Ibrahim said that while Hezbollah had played a role in the release “the base was the request from (President) Aoun.”

Zakka, who lives in Washington D.C., disappeared in Iran in 2015 after attending a conference there.