Ibrahim Meets Nizar Zakka in Iran
General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has paid a visit to Iran during which he met with Lebanese detainee Nizar Zakka in his prison, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said on Tuesday.
LBCI television meanwhile reported that Ibrahim "checked up on Zakka's situation and the latter is in good health."
Ibrahim later confirmed to al-Jadeed TV that "efforts have started with the Iranian authorities to secure the release of Nizar Zakka."
Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident, 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.
Amnesty International has said Zakka had only two court hearings before the ruling and received only limited legal assistance. The closed-door tribunal handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.
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, 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.
The Associated Press has reported that Zakka's IJMA3 organization had received at least $730,000 in contracts and grants since 2009 from both the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID.
Zakka's supporters had written former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry stating that Zakka traveled to Iran "with the knowledge and approval of the U.S. State Department, and his trip was funded by grants" from it.
Neither American nor Lebanese officials, who the U.S. says are responsible for providing consular assistance to Zakka, have publicly acknowledged Zakka's work with the U.S. government.