On Thursday, September 22, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, offered an amendment during the Floor debate of on H.R. 5931 – Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act. The measure, which passed in the House, included an amendment by Rep. Pompeo that prohibit ransom payments to any nation and sanctions Iranians responsible for holding U.S. nationals, including citizens as well as U.S. Legal Permanent Residents.
In his remarks, Rep. Pompeo discussed the unlawful detention of Mr. Nizar Zakka, a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident and internet freedom advocate who was sentenced earlier this week to 10 years prison – a hostage of the Iranian regime (see video embedded below).
Mr. Zakka was kidnapped after traveling to Tehran for a conference at the invitation of the Iranian government to discuss women’s empowerment and the Internet.
Rep. Pompeo released the following statement after the bill was approved by the House of Representatives:
“Although the American people consider prohibitions on ransom payments to be U.S. policy, given the administration’s recent actions, we have to make this prohibition explicit.”
More information on the detention and unjust verdict handed down against Mr. Zakka, please read more here.
See Congressman Pompeo’s remarks below;
Amnesty International released an Urgent Action Notice on September 16, regarding the denial of medical care for IT expert Nizar Zakka who is currently detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison. The law firm of PobleteTamargo has been representing Mr. Zakka in Washington, DC for two months.
Zakka, a permanent US resident and a Lebanese national, was unlawfully in Tehran one year ago by men believed to belong to the Revolutionary Guards after being invited by the Iranian government to attend a conference there.
Nizar Zakka has been denied the right to a fair trial and is now being denied much needed medical care as his health deteriorates. According to the Urgent Action notice:
The Iranian authorities regularly deny political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, adequate medical care. Amnesty International’s research shows that the denial is often a deliberate act by the judiciary, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, and/or the prison administration. In some cases, there is also evidence that the denial is being used as a means to extract “confessions” from political prisoners or to intimidate or punish them. Failing to provide adequate medical care to prisoners is a violation of Iran’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” The failure to provide adequate health care to prisoners may also violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is also a state party.
For more information, visit the Amnesty International website, here. The full text of the notice can be found below.