Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, June 17, 2019 - In September 2015, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) arrested Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-American citizen, while on his way to an airport in Tehran. At the time, Zakka was visiting Iran on an official invitation by Shahindokht Molaverdi, advisor to Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani, to participate in a conference in Tehran about women in Iran.
It was later declared that he was arrested for espionage, sentenced to ten years in prison and fined for $4.5 million.
As the noose of sanctions tightened around the Iranian regime and following secret negotiations, Tehran was forced to release Zakka. This deed showed the world the terrorist nature of this regime on one side and the escalating infighting among the regime's ruling factions on the other.
On June 13, the regime’s judiciary spokesperson, while declaring Nizar Zakka’s release, claimed that in addition to Zakka himself, Lebanese Prime Minister Michel Aoun and the Lebanese Hezbollah requested Zakka’s conditional release.
In an attempt to cover-up and deny any secret negotiations and bargaining for the release of Zakka, the mullahs’ judiciary spokesperson said, “We referred the case to the court. According to the law, the judge can issue a conditional release verdict to those who were convicted to 10 years term and have served one-third of their sentence, and there's a reason to believe they will no longer commit crimes after their release. Given that Nizar Zakka has shown good behavior during his detention and by the request of Lebanese President and the Hezbollah, we are assured he won’t commit any crime after release; therefore, the court accepted his conditional release so he could be handed over to Lebanon’s representatives."
The judiciary spokesperson affirmed that Zakka’s name was not on the Supreme Leader’s pardon list and his release was due to the request of Lebanese President and Hezbollah. This was all to say there weren’t any bargaining and/or compromise.
The spokesperson of the regime’s Supreme Security Council came out of nowhere to deny any compromise.
“No third country was involved in Zakka's release and this was done only at the request of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and intermediation by Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah."
However, in initial remarks after his release, Zakka made a reference to the secret negotiations and confirmed that the entire episode was planned in Lebanon.
Zakka also called his detention an "abduction” and said that the Iranian regime tried to force him through various tortures to accept the fabricated charges raised against him and to use him as a pressure card in negotiations.
Zakka reiterated that during his detention he faced various forms of torture. He said that in the past four years he was subjected to physical and mental torture in Tehran's Evin prison, which he called the most notorious prison in the world. He also said he was asked not to speak about the regime’s crimes but he said won’t remain silent.
In reaction to Zakka’s disclosure about his hostage-taking ordeal by the Iranian regime, Mohammad Ali Montazeri, the regime’s Attorney General, said: “If Zakka repeats his allegations, we will reveal our documents.”
Yet, Montazeri didn’t explain that if the espionage charge was real, why did the regime released Zakka after four years? And if his release is not a pardon issued by the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, then is there any other hypothesis than a behind-the-scenes bargain?
The only issue left for the regime from this episode, is the scandal and disgrace of kidnapping foreign citizen, an old recurring story of hostage-taking and extortion that has riddled the regime's four-decade rule.