Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has pardoned or commuted prison terms of 691 convicts found guilty by various Iranian courts.
The pardon was granted at the request of the country’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important Islamic festivals.
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-American national who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2015 on charge of working with the US intelligence service, was expected to be among those released on this occasion based on Lebanese media reports.
However, Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaeili announced on Sunday Zakka is not among those pardoned on the occasion.
The Judiciary did not include his name in the list of suggestions submitted to the Leader’s office, Esmaeili said.
A source familiar with the case told The Daily Star Saturday that he will arrive in Beirut within 48 hours.
The Lebanese Foreign Ministry announced earlier this week that Iran had agreed to free Zakka after President Michel Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil asked that he be released as a good-willed gesture for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Zakka was arrested during a trip to Iran in 2015 on charge of having “deep links” to US intelligence services.
Article 110 of the Constitution grants the Leader the right to pardon or reduce the sentences of convicts upon a recommendation from the head of the Judiciary.
The clemency, however, does not apply to all types of convicts, including those who have been sentenced for their role in armed struggle against the country, armed or organized drug trafficking, rape, armed robbery, arms smuggling, abduction, bribery and embezzlement.
Eid al-Fitr, also called the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
The religious festival is a day that Muslims are not permitted to fast on that specific day.
The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal.