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Iran releases Lebanese businessman convicted of spying

ANI  |  Middle East 

on Tuesday released a Lebanese named Zakka who was imprisoned on charges of spying for the for nearly four years.

Zakka, who is a permanent US resident, arrived in Lebanon's capital after the had made a request for his release.

Upon his arrival, Zakka met and at Baabda Palace, the official residence of the President, Al Jazeera reported.

Zakka, who is an expert, had disappeared while he was attending a conference in in 2015. Subsequently, he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment on charges of espionage.

The thanked the and his family for securing his release.

"The campaign for my release started in Lebanon, developed in Lebanon, and ended in Lebanon," he said, adding that he would not divulge into details regarding his "kidnapping, detention, and false accusations".

According to Zakka's lawyer, the was arrested while on his way to the airport to return to He was shifted to and was kept in solitary confinement for nearly a year.

In 2016, Zakka was ordered to cough up USD 4.2 million for espionage, apart from the 10-year prison sentence awarded to him.

Zakka's family, who was campaigning for his release, had alleged that he went on hunger strike several times and was tortured.

Zakka's Lebanese had claimed that she was not allowed to meet her client by Iranian authorities.

The US, which has called for Zakka's release in the past, responded positively to the development.

"It is without a doubt a great day for Mr Zakka, his family, and all those who have supported him during his unlawful imprisonment," a State Department said.

"We hope that Mr Zakka's release is a positive sign for American detainees in Iran," she said.

Zakka's release by the comes amid rising tensions between and after the former pulled out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the historic 2015 nuclear deal last year.

The US has slapped sanctions on Iran, citing the latter's support to state-sponsored terrorism. Tehran, on the other hand, said it would retaliate "strongly" and has accused of indulging in "economic terrorism.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 12 2019. 07:10 IST