FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Ms. Cara Di Silvio | +1.703.566.3037
Monday, August 28, 2017
Statement on the Continued Unlawful Detention of
Internet Freedom Advocate & Prisoner of Conscience Nizar Zakka
Mr. Nizar Zakka issued the following statement upon learning that the Iranian judicial system, such as it is, rendered another opinion in his case affirming a prior judgment that sentenced him to 10 years in prison and a $4.5 million fine for the false charge of espionage:
“If you’re traveling to Iran on business or pleasure, let my case be a lesson and a warning to others considering visits to Iran. I’m not the only one. If you value your freedom and are a foreigner, Iran is not safe for you. Don't come here. I was invited to speak at an Internet ICT conference by Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi. On my way to the airport I was kidnapped, locked up in Evin Prison, and was falsely charged with espionage. I am innocent and the Iranians know it. There is no rule of law in Iran, and I am a victim of this, especially if you’re a foreigner. I will continue to speak out for freedom and justice.”
Mr Zakka’s lawyer in the United States, Mr. Jason I. Poblete, added:
“As we have said in prior instances of alleged judicial action, Mr. Zakka was subjected to a Star Chamber-like proceeding by certain people in the Iranian government who are more interested in using him, and others, as political pawns in international politics. It's wrong and inhumane.
In 1979, Iran held Americans hostages to exact political concessions from the United States. The Iranians are doing it again, but this time Iran is using the color of law to legitimize what amounts to hostage-taking so that Iran can, among other things, circumvent U.S. and E.U. sanctions or use innocent civilians, such as Nizar, as leverage to negotiate flawed agreements such as the JCPOA.
In summary, Nizar was invited and given a visa, Nizar was kidnapped, and then Nizar was falsely accused of espionage. It appears that he was targeted for capture so that it coincided during a critical time of the JCPOA negotiations. For these and other reasons, Iran remains a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law. We shall continue to press all governments that can and should help to demand that Iran unconditionally release of Mr. Zakka.
# # #
510 King Street, Suite 350
Alexandria, Virginia 22314