UPDATE 8-Statement on Continued Unlawful Detention of Zakka

Congress Introduces Resolution Urging Unconditional Release of Nizar Zakka and all U.S. Persons Held Unlawfully in Iran

On May 4, several members of Congress, including the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), introduced H. Res. 317, a resolution calling for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent residents being held for political purposes by the Iranian regime.

The legislation includes Mr. Nizar Zakka, a United States legal permanent resident and Lebanese national, whose health is in a dire state, was unlawfully detained on September 18, 2015, in Iran after attending a women’s Arab Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) conference, at the invitation of Iranian government officials, and was later falsly charged of being a spy sentenced to 10 years at Evin prison.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen released the following statement regarding the resolution:

“The obvious result of paying a rogue regime a ransom for the return of hostages was that it would incentivize the taking of even more hostages. And that is precisely what happened when Iran was paid a $1.7 billion ransom for American hostages. Since then, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has taken hostage Siamak and Baquer Namazi, Karan Vafadari and at least one other American citizen, as well as permanent legal residents Nizar Zakka and Afarin Niasari, sentencing them on trumped up charges. What’s worse is that Iran is now using this hostage taking tactic with dual-nationals of other western nations, like the UK, France, Germany and Canada, in order to exact political and financial concessions. 

“All responsible nations must send a strong message to the regime in Tehran that this tactic will not pay off – the regime must release all hostages unconditionally. We must also hold the Iranian regime accountable for locating and returning Congressman Deutch’s constituent, Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007 and is the longest held civilian hostage in America’s history. That is why Nita Lowey, Ted Poe, Ted Deutch and I introduced this resolution, and why we will continue to press Iran to release all hostages.”

Mr. Zakka’s attorney, Mr. Jason Poblete, released the following press release after the introduction of the resolution to the Congress;



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