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Lebanese U.S. Resident Convicted Of Spying Leaves Iran For Lebanon


Nizar Zakka flashes a victory gesture in Beirut hours after being released from Iranian captivity on June 11.

A Lebanese national imprisoned in Iran on charges of spying for the United States has arrived in Beirut after being released by Tehran.

Nizar Zakka, who is also a resident of the United States, was detained by Iran on espionage charges in 2015.

Accompanied by Colonel Abbas Ibrahim, head of the Lebanon's General Security intelligence agency, Zaka headed directly to the presidential palace,for a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his family.

A spokesman for Iran's judiciary said an Iranian court had agreed on Zakka's "conditional release," adding that the man would be handed over to Lebanese authorities.

The spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, did not give details of the conditions of Zakka's release.

Lebanon's president and foreign minister had urged Iran to grant an amnesty to Zakka, and Iranian media reported on June 10 that he was to be released "only because of the respect and dignity" Iran has for Iran-backed Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

A Washington, D.C., resident and a U.S. Green Card holder, Zakka was head of an Arab IT organization that advocated for Internet development in the Middle East.

He was detained in September 2015 in Tehran after attending a government-organized conference.

In 2016, the 52-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison and handed a $4.2 million fine after a court convicted him of espionage -- a charge he denied.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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