The following article was published by The Washington Free Beacon on September 20, 2018. The original publication can be read here.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri will issue a statement before May 6 condemning Iran for “kidnapping” Lebanese Citizen and U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Nizar Zakka, Mr. Zakka’s brother, said in a statement Saturday. The announcement comes a few days after the U.S. Congress voted 410-2 to approve the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act that called for increased international cooperation in resolving several cases of unlawfully detained persons held in Iran, including Nizar Zakka.
If enacted, the law would impose new economic sanctions on Iranian officials for serious human rights abuses including hostage taking. The Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act builds upon two Congressional resolutions unanimously approved last year in the House of Representatives (H.Res. 317) and the Senate (S.Res. 245). The legislation is available at this U.S. Congress website.
In addition to the economic sanctions, one of the key components of the Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act is that it urges the Trump administration to work with international partners to investigate human rights violations by senior Iranian government officials, regardless of where or when such violations took place.
“Mr. Zakka, his family, friends and supporters are deeeply grateful and thank the U.S. Congress for not forgetting him and other unlawfully detained persons in Iran,” said Jason I. Poblete, Mr. Zakka’s attorney in the United States.
A U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and Lebanese national, Zakka was kidnapped and unlawfully detained after traveling to Iran to attend a state-sponsored conference in Tehran in 2015. At the time of the unlawful detention, Zakka was the secretary-general of IJMA3, an Arab communications organization, and had received an official invitation to visit from an Iranian vice president.
In November 2016, without elaboration, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reporters in Lebanon that “what happened with Mr. Zakka is not a problem between Iran and Lebanon, seeing as the problem was the violation of the applicable laws in Iran by a foreigner, and the problem is actually between the United States and Iran.”
In addition to ongoing efforts in the United States, the Daily Star of Lebanon reports that the Zakka family has been lobbying the Lebanese government to raise the subject with Iran and criticized ministers for not doing enough to secure Zakka’s release. You can read the entire Daily Star of Lebanon story by following this link.
The Global Liberty Alliance has worked with Mr. Zakka’s counsel in the United States as well as Mr. Zakka’s lawyer in Lebanon. In the United States, Alliance efforts have included raising awareness of Mr. Zakka’s plight with U.S. policymakers such as then-Congressman, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (see video below).
For more information about Nizar Zakka’s case as well as other Global Liberty Alliance efforts in the United States and Europe, please visit this Global Liberty Alliance website.
In a passing handshake with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Wednesday at the Brussels conference on Syria, Prime Minister Saad Hariri brought up the issue of the ongoing detention of Lebanese national Nizar Zakka.
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national currently detained in Iran, is in “very bad health,” members of his family said in a statement presented to Prime Minister Saad Hariri Monday.
The following article was published by The Daily Star on April 23, 2018. The original version can be read here.
The following editorial was published in The Daily Star on December 13, 2017. Written by the son of U.S. legal permanent resident and internet freedom advocate Nizar Zakka, it appeals to Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil for failing to act.
The family of U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and Internet Freedom Advocate Nizar Zakka, who is currently imprisoned in Tehran, have taken Mr. Zakka’s case to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
The Daily Star, a publication which reports on Lebanese and regional news, published the following article on November 29, discussing these developments.
Nizar Zakka, a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident from Lebanon, has been held hostage in Iran since September 18, 2015.
On his way to the airport, the day after he attended an Internet governance conference in Tehran, Nizar was kidnapped by several individuals believed to be associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.