Iran released a U.S. permanent resident and Lebanese native, Nizar Zakka, from prison after being held behind bars for four years.
Zakka was released Tuesday and in route to his native Lebanon with Lebanese General Security Directorate, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Abbas.
His release comes shortly after an Iranian official confirmed Zakka would be released later in the day.
According to Iranian media, his release came on behalf of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and no inter-state negotiations took place to secure Zakka’s release.
The Lebanese native was arrested back in 2015 during a trip to Tehran for a conference, which he attended after being invited by one of the vice presidents.
He was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2016 after Iran accused him of being an American spy.
— الأمن العام اللبناني (@DGSG_Security) June 11, 2019
Lebanese officials have pushed for Zakka’s release for quite some time, but it is unclear why Iran ultimately decided to release him now.
According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, there are nearly one dozen additional people, either Iranian citizens, or dual or foreign nationals, currently imprisoned by the Islamic Republic.
Zakka’s release comes as tension remains high between Tehran and Washington, and just one day after the foreign minister warned the U.S. “cannot expect to stay safe” after waging what he referred to as an “economic war.”