Iran executes British-Iranian accused of spying, prompts Western condemnation By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alireza Akbari, Iran’s former deputy defence minister, speaks throughout an interview with Khabaronline in Tehran, Iran, on this undated image obtained on January 12, 2023. Khabaronline/WANA (West Asia Information Company)/Handout by way of REUTERS

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Iran has executed a British-Iranian nationwide who as soon as served as its deputy defence minister, its judiciary stated, defying calls from London and Washington for his launch after he was handed the dying sentence on fees of spying for Britain.

Britain, which had declared the case towards Alireza Akbari politically motivated, condemned the execution, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling it “a callous and cowardly act carried out by a barbaric regime”.

Akbari, 61, was arrested in 2019.

The Iranian judiciary’s Mizan information company reported the execution with out saying when it had taken place. Late on Friday, British Overseas Secretary James Cleverly had urged Iran to not comply with by with the sentence.

Additionally condemned by the USA and France, the execution appears set to additional worsen Iran’s long-strained relations with the West, which have deteriorated since talks to revive its 2015 nuclear deal hit impasse and after Tehran unleashed a lethal crackdown on protesters final 12 months.

In an audio recording purportedly from Akbari and broadcast by BBC Persian on Wednesday, he stated he had confessed to crimes he had not dedicated after intensive torture.

“Alireza Akbari, who was sentenced to dying on fees of corruption on earth and intensive motion towards the nation’s inner and exterior safety by espionage for the British authorities’s intelligence service … was executed,” Mizan stated.

The Mizan report accused Akbari of receiving funds of 1,805,000 euros ($1.95 million), 265,000 kilos ($323,989.00), and $50,000 for spying.

Cleverly stated in a press release the execution would “not stand unchallenged”. He later introduced Britain had summoned the Iranian Cost d’Affaires, imposed sanctions on Iran’s prosecutor basic, and quickly withdrawn its ambassador from Tehran for additional consultations.

It marks a uncommon case of the Islamic Republic executing a serving or former senior official. One of many final events was in 1984, when Iranian navy commander Bahram Afzali was executed after being accused of spying for the Soviet Union.

British statements on the case haven’t addressed the Iranian cost that Akbari spied for Britain.

Iran’s overseas ministry summoned the British ambassador over what it known as London’s “meddling in Iran’s nationwide safety realm”, the state information company IRNA reported.

Iranian state media, which have portrayed Akbari as an excellent spy, broadcast a video on Thursday which they stated confirmed he performed a job within the 2020 assassination of Iran’s prime nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, killed in an assault exterior Tehran which authorities blamed on the time on Israel.

Within the video, Akbari didn’t confess to involvement within the assassination however stated a British agent had requested for details about Fakhrizadeh.

Iran’s state media typically airs purported confessions by suspects in politically-charged circumstances.

Reuters couldn’t set up the authenticity of the state media video and audio, or when or the place they have been recorded.

Akbari was a detailed ally of Ali Shamkhani, now the secretary of Iran’s Supreme Nationwide Safety Council, who was defence minister from 1997 to 2005. Akbari fought in the course of the Iran-Iraq battle within the Eighties as a member of the Revolutionary Guards.

Ramin Forghani, a nephew of Akbari, instructed Reuters the execution had come as a shock.

“I don’t assume an individual who spent all his life, from an early age, to serve the nation – because the Iran-Iraq battle – would spy for any nation,” he stated, noting Akbari had the rank of colonel within the Revolutionary Guards.

Talking by telephone from Luxembourg, he stated Akbari’s spouse, who lives in London, had tried however failed to steer Iranian officers to spare his life. Reuters was unable to succeed in her.


The U.S. State Division described the execution as politically motivated and unjust. The U.S. ambassador to London known as it “appalling and sickening”. French President Emmanuel Macron known as it a “despicable and barbaric act”.

Iran’s ties with the West have additionally been strained by its help for Russia in Ukraine, the place Western states say Moscow has used Iranian drones.

Together with different Western states, Britain, which has a protracted historical past of fraught ties with Iran, has been fiercely crucial of Tehran’s crackdown on anti-government protests, sparked by the dying in custody of a younger Iranian-Kurdish lady in September.

Iran has issued dozens of dying sentences as a part of the crackdown, executing at the least 4 folks.

A British minister stated on Thursday Britain was actively contemplating proscribing the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation however had not reached a last determination.

Within the recording broadcast by BBC Persian, Akbari stated he had made false confessions as a consequence of torture.

“With greater than 3,500 hours of torture, psychedelic medicine, and physiological and psychological stress strategies, they took away my will. They drove me to the brink of insanity… and compelled me to make false confessions by drive of arms and dying threats,” he stated.

Amnesty Worldwide stated the execution displayed once more Tehran’s “abhorrent assault on the best to life”. In Akbari’s case, “it’s notably horrific given the violations he revealed he was subjected to in jail”.

The Iranian authorities haven’t responded to accusations Akbari was tortured.

An Iranian state TV report – particulars of which Reuters couldn’t independently confirm – stated he was arrested on espionage fees in 2008 earlier than he was freed on bail and left Iran.

In an interview with BBC Persian broadcast on Friday, Akbari’s brother Mehdi stated he had returned to Iran in 2019 based mostly on an invite from Shamkhani.

($1 = 0.9235 euros)

($1 = 0.8179 kilos)

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