U.S. says hopes release of Lebanese man by Iran is positive signs for jailed Americans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday applauded the release of Lebanese detainee Nizar Zakka, who has U.S. residency, by Iran as a “great day” for him and his family and said it hoped the move was a positive sign for Americans detained by Tehran.

“It is without a doubt a great day for Mr. Zakka, his family, and all those who have supported him during his unlawful imprisonment,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “We hope that Mr. Zakka’s release is a positive sign for American detainees in Iran,” she said.

Zakka, an information technology specialist, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined $4.2 million in 2016. He denied the charges, while Iranian media have described him as a U.S. spy.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun had lobbied for Iran to grant him an amnesty, and officials in Tehran said his release was partly due to the country’s close ties with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama