Lawyer for Lebanese man held in Iran says he will be freed

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BEIRUT (AP) — The lawyer for a Lebanese man held in Iran since 2015 said Monday that his client will be released in the "next few days."

Majed Dimashkiyeh told The Associated Press that Nizar Zakka's expected release comes after mediations by top Lebanese officials, including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Aoun is a close ally of Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed Lebanese group.

Some Iranian media outlets reported earlier Monday that Zakka would be released soon without giving further details.

The expected release of Nizar Zakka, 52, comes at a time of rising tension in the Middle East between the United States and Iran.

Zakka, who has permanent U.S. residency, went missing in 2015, during his fifth trip to Iran. Two weeks later, Iranian state TV reported that he was in custody and suspected of having "deep links" to U.S. intelligence services.

Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison in September 2016 and handed a $4.2 million fine after a security court convicted him of espionage.

Zakka's family denies the allegations.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a resolution two years ago calling for Zakka's release.

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