Ibrahim Meets Zakka ahead of 'Tuesday' Repatriation
General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim on Monday met with Lebanese detainee Nizar Zakka in Tehran and the latter will be freed and repatriated to Lebanon on Tuesday, General Security said.
The security agency also posted pictures of the Ibrahim-Zakka meeting on its Twitter account.
Ibrahim also met with a number of Iranian officials and has put President Michel Aoun in the picture of all the meetings he has held in Iran, Lebanese TV networks reported.
Earlier in the day, Iranian state television reported that Zakka "will be released in the coming hours."
The report on state TV's website mirrored a report earlier carried by the semi-official Fars news agency about Zakka, a Lebanese advocate for internet freedom.
It said Zakka was to be released "only because of the respect and dignity" Iran has for the leader of Hizbullah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and that negotiations were not held with "any person or government."
Lebanon's Foreign Ministry had on Tuesday announced that Tehran had asked Lebanese authorities to send a delegation to Tehran for Zakka's repatriation.
“After the lengthy efforts that were lately intensified, the Iranian ambassador to Beirut called the Foreign Minister (Jebran Bassil) and officially informed him that the relevant Iranian authorities have positively responded to Lebanese President General Michel Aoun’s plea to his Iranian counterpart Sheikh Hassan Rouhani and to the Foreign Minister’s letter to his Iranian counterpart regarding the pardon of Lebanese national Nizar Zakka for the occasion of Eid al-Fitr,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned 691 prisoners on the occasion of the end of Ramadan, but Zakka was not among them, authorities said Sunday.
Zakka has been detained in Iran since 2015 over spying allegations. He was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine.
Zakka, who lived in Washington and held resident status in the U.S., was the leader of the Arab ICT Organization, or IJMA3, an industry consortium from 13 countries that advocates for information technology in the region. Zakka disappeared Sept. 18, 2015, during his fifth trip to Iran. He had been invited to attend a conference at which President Hassan Rouhani spoke of providing more economic opportunities for women and sustainable development.
On Nov. 3 that year, Iranian state television aired a report saying he was in custody and calling him a spy with "deep links" with U.S. intelligence services. It also showed what it described as a damning photo of Zakka and three other men in army-style uniforms, two with flags and two with rifles on their shoulders. But that turned out to be from a homecoming event at Zakka's prep school, the Riverside Military Academy in Georgia, according to the school's president.