Iran Prison Sentence for US Resident on charges of Spying

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.

Iran Prison Sentence for US Resident on charges of Spying

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.


Article Author Details

Bill Schroder

Bill Schroder is a Beirut-based correspondent for The World Beast. He has reported from over a dozen countries in the Middle East for such publications. Follow: Tweets by @SchroderBill

  • Jayson DeBrune

    When Iran engages in an illegal act (taking hostages) and then gets rewarded for it (demanding cash as condition of release) you open the door to similar acts and condone the original illicit act. The proof of that process is that Iran has already snatched up Americans, Brits and Canadians this year alone with no trial and charge. So like a trained dog, we’ve made it clear to the mullahs we’ll pay to play for our people or conversely, they won’t be inclined to negotiate any releases unless THEY get something in return. This kind of quid pro quo is the worst kind of negotiating tactic and far from being a bright move, ties the hands of future administrations which is why the US had the long standing policy since the ’70s of never negotiating with terrorists.