Iran to release Lebanese US resident convicted of spying

Iran to hand over detained US resident to Lebanon – report

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency meanwhile said Zakka would be handed over to representatives of Hezbollah on Tuesday, rather than the top Lebanese security official who flew to Tehran earlier this week. Iranian media has described him as a USA spy.

"A court has accepted the condition of freedom of Nizar Zakka and he will be handed over to Lebanese officials", Esmaili said, according to the judiciary's Mizan news agency. "However, Ibrahim said Iran's freeing of Zakka was not part of any wider deal", the Reuters news agency said.

Nizar Zakka, an information technology specialist who holds USA residency, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined $4.2 million in 2016.

Zakka's release comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the USA after America's withdrawal from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

General Security confirmed Zakka's imminent return and said he was set to meet Lebanese President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace.

Sarah Fallah, a Lebanese lawyer who represented Zakka, told HRW in March 2016 that Iranian authorities refused to let her visit her client.

She says "The big question is there's several others and we want to see those people released as well".

It broadcast photographs of a man in military uniform it said was of Zakka at a United States base.

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The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Zakka was held at Tehran's Evin prison, a facility established in 1972. His potential release comes as tensions between Iran and the US remain high in the wake of President Trump withdrawing America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

Zakka, a computer scientist and Internet freedom advocate, was detained in Tehran after attending a conference at the invitation of the Iranian government.

The comment on Tuesday from Gholamhossein Esmaili is the first official confirmation that Nizar Zakka would be sent back to Lebanon, years after his internationally criticized spying conviction.

Ibrahim told Reuters on Monday he was also working on securing the release of four Lebanese citizens detained in the UAE and Qatar, as well as the case of businessman Kassim Tajideen, who is in a U.S prison.

But Iranian newspaper Sobh-e No asserted that his release was secured only following the intervention of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

He was arrested on the way to the airport and later sentenced to 10 years behind bars on espionage charges in a closed-door trial.

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