In what appears to be a blow to the already strained ties with the west, Iran executed a British-Iranian man accusing him of spying.
Alireza Akbari, who had previously served as Iran’s deputy defence minister was executed on Saturday, according to Iran’s judiciary, refusing requests from London for his release after he was given the death penalty for espionage against the United Kingdom.
The execution was denounced by Britain, which has characterised the case against Alireza Akbari as being politically motivated and warned that it would not go unopposed.
The act was “a callous and cowardly act carried out by a savage regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people,” according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The execution was reported by the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan news agency early on Saturday without a time frame.
“British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had said Late on Friday, that Iran must not follow through with the sentence — a call echoed by Washington.
Alireza Akbari, who had been convicted of major acts of espionage for the British government’s intelligence service and corruption on earth, was put to death, according to Mizan.
According to the report, Akbari, who was detained in 2019, was paid €1,805,000, £265,000, and $50,000 for spying.
He claimed that after extensive torture, in an audio recording allegedly made by Akbari and shown on BBC Persian on Wednesday, he had confessed to acts he had not done.
Sunak expressed his shock at the execution on Twitter.
Cleverly declared in a statement that it “would not go unopposed.” We’ll call the Iranian Charge d’Affaires to express our disapproval with Iran’s behaviour, we’ll say.
The Iranian accusation that Akbari spied for Britain has not been addressed in British statements regarding the issue.
Iranian state media aired a video on Thursday that they claimed demonstrated Akbari’s involvement in the 2020 murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist. Fakhrizadeh was killed in an incident outside of Tehran that the government initially blamed on Israel.
Although Akbari would not admit to taking part in the murder, he did claim that a British agent had enquired about Fakhrizadeh in the video.
In politically heated situations, suspects’ alleged confessions are frequently broadcast by Iran’s state media.
When Akbari served as Ali Shamkhani’s deputy from 1997 to 2005, Shamkhani, who is currently the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was a close buddy of Akbari.
He held the positions of “deputy minister of defence for foreign relations” and “secretary of the Supreme National Security Council,” among other positions. In addition, Akbari had “headed a division at the research centre of the defence ministry” and served as “adviser to the commander of the navy.”
Veteran of the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War, Akbari was detained between March 2019 and March 2020, according to official media statng about the Iran executes British-Iranian.
Akbari became a “major spy” for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, according to Mizan, who earlier this week cited a statement from Iran’s intelligence ministry.