RFL/RE – A Lebanese information-technology (IT) expert detained in Iran for more than a year has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $4.2 million, his supporters say.
Nizar Zakka, a Washington resident, was detained in September 2015 in Tehran after attending a government-organized conference on entrepreneurship and employment, where he was a panelist.
Iran’s state-controlled television and hard-line media outlets have accused Zakka of having links to the U.S. military and intelligence services.
In a September 19 statement e-mailed to RFE/RL, Jason Poblete, a U.S. lawyer representing Zakka, said a revolutionary court had issued a 60-page verdict and sentence.
“This is but another example of the Iranian regime’s targeting of Americans to extract concessions from the U.S.,” the statement said.
It added that Zakka “is innocent and is being used as political pawn.”
Zakka is the general secretary of the Arab Communications and Information Technology organization, which advocates for Internet development in the Middle East.
In the past months, several dual nationals, including Iranian-Americans, have been detained in Iran in what appears to be a crackdown on warming ties with the West following last year’s nuclear agreement.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned against alleged “infiltration” attempts by the West.
With reporting by AP