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Iran says detained U.S. resident to be released to Lebanon

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2017

    Ziad Zakka, brother of Nizar Zakka who is imprisoned in Iran, shows a photo of his brother on his cellular telephone in Beirut, Lebanon.

TEHRAN, Iran >> An Iranian judiciary spokesman says Iran has agreed to hand over a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned for years to Lebanese officials.

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.

On Monday, state TV said Zakka was to be released “only because of the respect and dignity” Iran has for the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

A top Lebanese security official is in Tehran to secure Zakka’s release, which has been anticipated.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard detained Zakka in 2015 after he attended a conference in Tehran on the invitation of one of the country’s vice presidents. He was convicted of spying and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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