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Lebanon: Iran releases Lebanese businessman convicted of espionage

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A Lebanese businessman who had spent nearly four year in jail in Iran appeared at the Baabda Presidential Palace near Beirut on Tuesday, after the government secured his release.

Nizar Zakka, who also holds permanent residence in the US, was detained after attending a state-sponsored conference in Tehran in September 2015 and later convicted of spying. He was released after a request from Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

“Whatever happened, happened. It is my duty to thank the Iranian authorities and the President of the Republic, who responded to me and put an end to the tragic situation that you were in,” said Aoun during the meeting with Zakka.

The businessman, who says he was kidnapped and falsely accused, also made a speech at the Presidential Palace. “I did nothing and I deserved freedom. There is nothing more beautiful than freedom. Here is the home of the people and freedom,” said Zakka.

The United States’ State Department has welcomed the release.

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