Nizar Zakka — a Lebanese citizen and permanent US resident held by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for nearly four years in Iran — was released in June 2019 after having staged at least six hunger strikes. His release was secured thanks to the intervention of Lebanon’s President General Michel Aoun.
He was arrested on the way to the airport after speaking at a 2015 conference in Tehran. He was charged and found guilty of espionage and sentenced to 10 years behind closed doors.
Mr. Zakka had been invited to speak at the International Conference and Exhibition on Women in Sustainable Development in 2015 by Ms Shahindokht Molaverdi, President Hassan Rouhani’s Vice President. As the Representative of the Vice Chairman of the Global Information and Communications Technology Connections, Mr Zakka regularly traveled to Iran to attend telecom and other trade shows, as well as to speak at conferences by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology of Iran (ICT), which was a member of of his organisation.
In an interview with Kayhan Life’s Nazenin Ansari, Mr. Zakka comments on the November 2019 protests in Iran and in Lebanon, and discusses the issue of whether the US would be able to provide free internet to Iran.