Wednesday, 27 May 2015
In a radio interview with Radio Martí news, Jason Poblete discuses a request for precautionary measures that was deposited on May 20, 2015 with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights on behalf of the Apostolic Movement in Cuba and its leader, Reverend Yiorvis Bravo Denis.
The case centers around a long-term dispute with Cuban government officials to confiscate property owned by the Apostolic Movement in Camagüey, Cuba that is used as a home and church. It is part of a larger campaign by the Cuban government to restrict religious liberty and property rights on the island.
Reverend Bravo Denis and members of the Apostolic Movement in Cuba have been targeted, since at least 2007, by the Office of Religious Affairs (ORA) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The former head of the Apostolic Movement was a former prisoner of conscience, but was granted political asylum in the United States a few years ago.
A European-based NGO, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has been working on this matter for many years, in addition to other cases of religious persecution throughout the island. You can learn more about their campaign here.
The Radio Martí story and interview is available here.
U.S. LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENT/ICT PROFESSIONAL SENTENCED BY THE IRANIAN REGIME TO 10 YEARS IN EVIN PRISON, FINED MILLIONS
U.S. Must Do More to Secure Nizar Zakka’s Unconditional Release
(Washington, D.C.) This week marks a year since Mr. Nizar Zakka, a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident, was taken hostage in Iran by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Earlier today, PobleteTamargo LLP issued a statement urging the U.S. government to help secure Nizar’s immediate unconditional release. That statement is available here.
PobleteTamargo LLP has since learned that the “court” which tried Mr. Zakka has now issued a 60-page verdict and sentence. Mr. Zakka’s U.S. attorney, Mr. Jason Poblete, issued the following statement urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Powers to ask for Mr. Zakka’s unconditional release when they speak with the Iranian delegation during the UN General Assembly this week.
The following news articles discuss the unlawful detention and verdict of Mr. Nizar Zakka:
From The Washington Examiner
August 4, 2016
A Lebanese citizen and permanent US resident, Nizar Zakka has lived in Washington, D.C. for many years. He was arrested in Iran last September while on travel to attend an International Conference and Exhibition on Women in Sustainable Development. Zakka was invited to serve as an event speaker by an Iranian official. During that visit he was arrested in Iran and has been detained in long-term solitary confinement since last September under nonspecific charges.
Jason Poblete, attorney for Zakka, says that his health is deteriorating, especially during the past months, and that he is on a hunger strike to protest his harsh treatment.
“The family is concerned about his well-being and they are asking the US government and anybody who can to please help secure his release,” Poblete told the Washington Examiner.
Zakka was working on a US government grant when he traveled to Iran. Amnesty International reported that Zakka had helped to set up a “regional alliance of information and technology organizations” across over a dozen companies in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The latest reports that the US had sent Iran $400 million cash payment at the same time that American prisoners were sent home has many, including Poblete, worried that it was essentially a ransom, and that Iran may seek additional concessions before Zakka is released.
“We hope that our government is not salvaging the [nuclear deal] on the backs and lives of these innocent people, including Mr. Zakka,” Poblete said.
According to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual, however, the US government has wide discretion in advocating for legal permanent residents. “At times, you will come across arrest cases of individuals who are not US citizens or nationals but who are legal permanent residents with strong ties to the United States,” the manual states.
“Their arrest may come to your attention from other family members in the United States, other prisoners, congressional offices, or even host government officials who on occasion are not quite clear on the exact status of a US ‘green card’ holder.”
“The department’s general guidance in such cases is: While consular officers do not have the right to demand consular access and visitation for US Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens (LPRs), they may do so on a courtesy basis.”
The complete article in the Washington Examiner can be found here.
THE CONTINUED UNLAWFUL DETENTION OF NIZAR ZAKKA, UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE ON HUMANITARIAN GROUNDS URGED
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Last week, Mr. Nizar Zakka, a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident, was sentenced to 10 years in captivity and fined millions of dollars by the Iranian regime. Mr. Zakka was unlawfully detained by Iranian officials in September 2015 in Tehran and has since been held hostage by the Iranian regime. Mr. Zakka’s U.S. attorney, Mr. Jason Poblete, issued the following statement urging the United States to press the Iranians for the unconditional release of Mr. Zakka on humanitarian grounds.
UPDATE 1-THE CONTINUED UNLAWFUL DETENTION OF NIZAR ZAKKA, UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE ON HUMANITARIAN GROUNDS URGED
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Almost a month has passed since the government of Iran sentenced U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Nizar Zakka to 10 years in captivity and fined millions of dollars. Mr. Zakka was unlawfully detained by Iranian officials in September 2015 in Tehran and has since been held hostage by the Iranian regime. In addition to the denial of due process, Mr. Zakka has yet to receive necessary medical attention as his health has rapidly declined and becomes more critical.
Mr. Zakka’s U.S. attorney, Jason I. Poblete, has released the following statement urging the United States government and other responsible parties to take immediate action to secure his unconditional release on humanitarian grounds.
Prior Statements and Related Information:
Friday, 04 November 2016
Statement on the Continued Unlawful Detention of Nizar Zakka
The following statement was released by Mr. Nizar Zakka’s attorney in the United States, Mr. Jason Poblete on the continued unlawful detention of the US Legal Permanent Resident as he celebrates another birthday in Evin Prison.
Today also marks the aniversary of the 1979 hostage taking and seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. As Mr. Poblete states,
“37 years ago today students chanting “Death to America” acting on orders of radical Iranian clerics took 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The ordeal would last 444 days and would mark the beginning of the regime’s war against “the Great Satan” and its people.
To read the above press release in Arabic, go here.
Prior Statements and Related Information:
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released it’s annual reports on the state of Religious Freedom throughout the globe. Countries are broken into three categories, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Other countries of interest based on the level of concern for religious liberties. Cuba is considered a Tier 2 country, along with other nations such as Afghanistan, Russia and Turkey.
In the most recent findings on religious freedom conditions in Cuba, USCIRF found that increased government intervention and threats to permanently close and demolish church properties created a significant deterioration of religious liberties on the island.
As stated in the report; “While the Cuban constitution guarantees freedom of religion or belief, this protection is limited by other constitutional and legal provisions.” In the discussion of continued targeting and harassment of independent religious communities, USCIRF makes note of the Cuban governments relentless persecution of the Apostolic Movement. Targeted harassment includes; “short-term arrests of leaders; government-organized mob attacks; confiscations, destruction of, or threats to destroy church property; harassment and surveillance of church members and their relatives; fines on churches; and threats to leaders and members of loss of employment, housing or educational opportunities.”
Especially concerning is the continued harassment of Apostolic Reformation Revered Yiorvis Bravo Denis. The government of Cuba continues their attempts in seizing his family home and church. We are particularly pleased the USCIRF has taken notice of Reverend Bravo’s case and continue to urge the OAS to take action on our request.
Attorneys with PobleteTamargo LLP represent Reverend Bravo Denis and the Apostolic Movement of Cuba before the Organization of American States (OAS)’s Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR).
The full report on Cuba can be read here.