Iran leader pardons 691 on Eid, but Lebanese excluded

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 13, 2019

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.

It said that Zakka is to be released "only because of the respect and dignity" Iran has for Iran-backed Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. He was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine.

In April this year, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters he was proposing "a serious dialogue" with the United States on a possible prisoner swap, though he did not say whether Zakka might be included.

Hizbollah is the most powerful armed force in Lebanon as well as being part of the governing coalition in Beirut.

A Lebanese national and US resident who is in an Iranial jail after being convicted on charges of espionage for the United States in 2015, is to be released.

A US permanent resident held for years in Iran after his conviction on disputed spying charges "will be released in the coming hours", Iranian state television reported Monday.

Mr Zakka was detained in Iran in 2015 after arriving in the country to speak at a government conference on the invitation of officials.

In 2016, The Associated Press reported that Zakka's supporters wrote 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 it. "We welcome the release of any unjustly held foreign detainees in Iran".

Last week Lebanon's foreign ministry said in a statement that efforts to secure Zakka's release had been successful. His potential release comes as tensions between Iran and the US remain high after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

The semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday quoted Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying that authorities were conducting a "special review" of the request by Nizar Zakka and "Lebanese political officials", without elaborating. However, U.S. -Iranian tensions have risen anew since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the nuclear pact in May 2018.

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