Nizar Zakka

A Washington-based lawyer for a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned in Iran by IRGC has called him as a "hostage."

Jason Poblete said in a statement on Thursday that Iranian accusations that Nizar Zakka confessed to authorities are "completely false." AP, reported on February 23, 2017.

A semi-official Iranian news agency on Wednesday published comments from a Revolutionary Guard commander saying Zakka confessed to trying to "encourage corruption" in Iranian society.

Poblete called for the immediate and unconditional release of Zakka, a Lebanese computer expert whose organization previously did contract work for the U.S. government, and all other Westerners held by Iran.

Zakka was detained in September 2015 after speaking at a conference attended by President Hassan Rouhani at the Iranian government's invitation.
Zakka is serving a 10-year prison sentence and faces a $4.2 million fine after a closed-door trial.

Zakka was charged under Article 508 of Iran's penal code, Poblete said. The code states that anyone found cooperating with a foreign state against the Islamic Republic of Iran faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Iran's vice president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, invited Zakka to attend a conference on women's entrepreneurship in September 2015, according to a copy of a signed letter from Molaverdi provided by Poblete.