Mr. Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese National and US Legal Permanent Resident, has been unlawfully detained by Iran since September 2015. After close to four years in Evin Prison, Mr. Zakka was released on June 11, 2019.
Mr. Zakka traveled to Iran in September 2015, at the invitation of Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi, to speak at a conference on the use of technology and the Internet to promote social, economic, and educational development in the region.
After the conference, en route to the airport, Mr. Zakka was taken by persons believed to be associated with the IRGC’s Basij or the intelligence services. In stunning admission to the media in September 2018, Ms. Molaverdi told the Associated Press mistakes have been made in Nizar’s matter, adding that “[w]e did all we could to stop this from happening, but we are seeing that we have failed to make a significant impact.” Despite Molaverdi’s admission, Nizar remains hostage.
Mr. Zakka has been denied the right to review the charges or evidence against him and his lawyers have not been allowed to mount a proper defense. In protest of his situation, he has held at least five hunger strikes. In addition to several Amnesty International Urgent Action notices, Mr. Zakka has been declared a prisoner of conscience by several international freedom advocates including Dr. Asma Jahangir, the second United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Iran.
Despite the ordeal, including psychological and physical torture, Nizar maintained his innocence throughout his entire unlawful detention. He was released from Evin Prison in June 2019.
More information on Mr. Zakka’s case, including further background and updates, can be found below.
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