US to release Lebanese businessman accused of ties to Hezbollah

Tajideen pleaded guilty before a Washington court and faces five years in prison. (Twitter)

A Lebanese businessman imprisoned in the US for evading sanctions and accused of ties to Hezbollah will be released soon, his family and another source with knowledge of the matter said Friday.

Kassim Tajideen's family said they were looking forward to his return to Lebanon “in the near future.”

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The statement added: “We are grateful to the Lebanese and US authorities for facilitating his return home.”

Tajideen was arrested in 2017, in Morocco, following an international arrest warrant and then extradited to the US.

Although he was accused of financing Hezbollah, Tajideen only pleaded guilty to charges of evading sanctions imposed on him, not for financing the Iran-backed militia.

An authoritative source with knowledge of the matter told Al Arabiya English that the move was a “swap of good gestures between Washington and Beirut to ease tensions.”

Tajideen's release comes after the March release of a Lebanese-American man who was arrested upon arrival in Lebanon last year.

Amer Fakhoury had worked with an Israeli-backed militia in southern Lebanon until 2000, before fleeing.

“This has to do with the Fakhoury release. You did something nice for us, and we will do something nice for you,” the source said, referring to the Lebanese government's decision to allow Fakhoury to be airlifted out of the country.

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Asked about ramifications of the release on US-Iran tensions, the source said it had nothing to do with this.

“Iranians will not exchange any prisoner for someone that is not Iranian. Tajideen's release has nothing to do with Iran.”

Tajideen is expected to be released before the end of June. Following the US judge's decision on May 27, prosecutors were given one month to appeal. This one-month period will expire on June 27 and the source said, prosecutors will not appeal the decision.

The statement from Tajideen's family said the US judge agreed to release the Lebanese businessman “because of the risks of [coronavirus] on his life should he remain in prison.”

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Last Update: Saturday, 20 June 2020 KSA 03:15 - GMT 00:15
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