The Latest: US resident held in Iran freed, flies to Beirut

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in the case of a U.S. permanent resident released after being imprisoned for years in Iran (all times local):

2 p.m.

A Lebanese official says a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned for years in Iran is free and on his way to Lebanon.

The official says Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese businessman, is on a plane with the chief of Lebanon's General Security Directorate Gen. Ibrahim Abbas and heading to the Lebanese capital.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Zakka has been imprisoned in Iran since 2015. He is one of several prisoners with either dual nationality or links to the West held in Iran. His release comes as tensions between Iran and the U.S. remain high after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

—Bassem Mroue in Beirut;

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10:45 a.m.

An Iranian judiciary spokesman says Iran has agreed to hand over a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned for years to Lebanese officials.

The comment on Tuesday from Gholamhossein Esmaili is the first official confirmation that Nizar Zakka would be sent back to Lebanon, years after his internationally criticized spying conviction.

On Monday, state TV said Zakka was to be released "only because of the respect and dignity" Iran has for the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

A top Lebanese security official is in Tehran to secure Zakka's release, which has been anticipated.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard detained Zakka in 2015 after he attended a conference in Tehran on the invitation of one of the country's vice presidents. He was convicted of spying and sentenced to 10 years in prison.