Nizar Zakka was invited to Iran in a conference where he was detained. Zakka is a campaigner for freedom over the internet. He was held in Iran for a year over allegations of spying. Zakka was recently awarded an Iran prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of 4.2 million dollars.
The recent case is a manifestation of Iran’s ongoing operation against people who have ties with foreign countries. The crackdown was started after Iran reached a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers.
Nizar Zakka is originally from Lebanon. He currently lives in Washington and works for internet freedom. His non-profit organization did have ties with the American government. The sentence came when officials from Iran are going to New York in order to attend UN general assembly meeting.
The incident also brings to fore the challenges faced by the West as well as all those countries that want establish and maintain close ties with the Islamic Republic where the hardline element is very powerful and continually seeks to target people with dual nationalities. There are secret trials also going on within the country.
A former legislature from Virginia State, David Ramadan said that Iran has no regard for the international order, agreements or relations. They do not care about anything. Ramadan is the co-founder of a group named ‘Friends of Nizar Zakka.’
Zakka is represented by an American lawyer, Jason Poblete who stated that a revolutionary court in the capital Tehran issued the sentence which spanned sixty pages. The verdict hasn’t still been made available to Zakka’s supporters.
Amnesty international revealed that Nizar Zakka attended two court hearings and the legal assistance offered to him was minimal. Later, he appeared at the revolutionary court which is a secret tribunal and works behind closed doors. It handles all the cases that involve spying and seeking to overthrow the government.
Zakka’s case was heard by Judge Abolghassem Salavati who is a radical and is known to hand down tough verdicts in previous such cases. In one of these cases, he sentenced Jason Rezaian to prison. Rezaian was a journalist for the Washington Post and was released in a prisoner swap between the US and Iran.
The Iranian state media did not mention Zakka’s verdict. Its UN mission also refrained from commenting on the issue. The US State department did not entertain a request for comments on the Iran prison sentence.