January 6, 2022
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese who spent about four years in prison in Iran on political charges, has established an NGO to support and help the release of people held hostage for unjust reasons.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British expert on Islamic studies who was also jailed in Iran for about two years, said Wednesday that the non-profit NGO aims at preventing the inhumane act of hostage taking while advocating for the unjustly detained and their families.
“As a former hostage who was kidnapped for almost 4 years in Iran, I have experienced firsthand, the pain, suffering and betrayal that comes with it”, Zakka said on the website of Hostage Aid Worldwide.
He was arrested on vague charges of espionage for the US and was released in June 2019 after an appeal by Lebanese President Michelle Aoun. After his release, Zakka talked about various types of torture he suffered in prison, including spending about 18 months blindfolded.
Zakka, who was also a US permanenet resident, was invited to Iran in 2016 by a top official of former president Hassan Rouhani’s government but he was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard.
Iran has detained many dual nationals who have visited the country and used them as bargaining chips against Western countries, according to human rights organizations.