September 20, 2018
The World Information Technology and Services (WITSA) renews appeal to the Government of Iran for the release of Mr Nizar Zakka
WITSA Fairfax, VA: The World Information Technology and Services (WITSA) renewed its appeal to the Government of Iran for the immediate release of Mr Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born internet freedom advocate living in the U.S.
Mr. Zakka served on WITSA’s Board of Directors and was its Vice Chairman for the Middle East and Northern Africa region. Mr Zakka did not return from Tehran after participating in the Second International Conference & Exhibition on Women in Sustainable Development on September 18, 2015. Mr Zakka was invited by the Government of Iran to speak at this conference by the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade.
On September 18, WITSA also issued a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, urging his personal intervention with the Iranian leadership to obtain Nizar’s freedom, both as a humanitarian and a moral issue. WITSA also encouraged the U.S. Administration to condemn the imprisonment of Mr. Zakka, a U.S. Permanent Resident and Lebanese Citizen, in the strongest possible terms at the upcoming U.N. Security Council and General Assembly meetings.
As background information, WITSA is the leading consortium of ICT industry associations from 82 countries and economies around the world. As you know, ICT is the key driver of the Global Economy. Our members represent over 90 percent of the ICT industry worldwide.
Mr. Zakka is also one of the founding members of The Arab ICT Organization – IJMA3, which was formed to represent a regional alliance of ICT organizations across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Today, the member organizations represent 18 ICT organizations, across 14 countries. In addition to being an advocate for the ICT industry, IJMA3 works on projects in the field of ICT for Development (ICT4D), which aim to promote income generating opportunities and improved livelihoods for people across the MENA region, particularly youth.
WITSA is very concerned about Mr. Zakka’s personal safety, his family and-well-being. It is very important that this matter be resolved as quickly as possible. WITSA has previously reached out to many relevant parties, including the Department of State in an April 28, 2016 letter as well as to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Furthermore, we also attempted in 2016 to meet with His Excellency Gholamali Khoshroo, Ambassador of the Republic of Iran to the United Nations to no avail.
WITSA’s renewed request comes amid several encouraging developments, including U.S. Senate 245 of August 3, 2017 calling on the Government of Iran to release unjustly detained United States
citizens and legal permanent resident aliens, and H.R. 4744 of January 9, 2018 (“Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act.”). WITSA also notes that, on September 5, 2018, Ms. Shahindokht Molaverdi, Special Assistant to the President for Citizenship rights, became the first Iranian government official to distance herself from Nizar’s false imprisonment by stating that “this is in no way approved by the government,” and acknowledging that she had personally invited Mr. Zakka to attend the fateful conference in 2015.
The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is the leading recognized international voice of the global ICT industry, whose members from over 80 countries and economies represent more than 90 percent of the world ICT market. WITSA is dedicated to advocating policies that advance industry growth and development; facilitating international trade and investment in ICT products and services; strengthening WITSA’s national industry associations; and providing members with a broad network of professional contacts.
WITSA members are leaders in a globally interconnected marketplace. Because the challenges facing the ICT industry are undisputedly global in nature, WITSA members work together to achieve a shared vision on important issues of common interest. WITSA makes it possible for its members — ranging from Mongolia and Argentina to Kenya and the United States — to identify common issues and priorities, exchange valuable information, and present a united position on industry issues.
 Washington Post, September 14, 2018: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/ap-interview-adviser-says-iran-failed-detained-us-resident/2018/09/14/d8a5df92-b7e5-11e8-ae4f-2c1439c96d79_story.html?utm_term=.84d7c5148ae7