A Lebanese man who spent almost four years in an Iranian prison on spying charges will be released, the government in Tehran announced Tuesday.
Meanwhile, head of the Lebanese General Security, General Abbas Ibrahim left Beirut on Sunday heading for Tehran to complete efforts to release Zakka.
"I went to a country with an official invitation and was abducted", he said.
Nizar Zakka, 52, is a permanent US resident who was accused of spying on Iran for the United States when he attended a conference in 2015. An Iranian judiciary official provided on Tuesday the first official confirmation that Nizar Zakka would be sent back to his native Lebanon.
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In 2016, The Associated Press reported that Zakka's supporters wrote to 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 the department.
Iran holds a number of dual nationals, including Iranian Americans, as well as Chinese-born USA citizen and Princeton scholar, Xiyue Wang.
A resident of the United States in his 50s, Zakka was arrested in September 2015 during a visit to Iran, where he was convicted the following July.
"We reviewed the (Lebanese) president's request through the Supreme National Security Council" Esmaili said.
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Zakka is one of several prisoners with either dual nationality or ties to the West held in Iran.
The statement claimed that Zakka, who graduated from the Riverside Military Academy of Gainesville in Georgia, had "deep links" with U.S. military and intelligence agencies.
In the statement published on Iran's Mizan News Agency on Tuesday, Iran judiciary spokesperson Gholam Hussein Esmaeili said Zakka's release was in line with Iran's Constitution, which allows for the conditional release of prisoners sentenced up to 10 years, if they had served at least a third of the sentence and shown good behaviour. His release comes as tensions between Iran and the USA remain high after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
In 2016, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $4.2m for espionage.
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