Iran has hanged a British-Iranian dual citizen for espionage and corruption, state media reported on Saturday, the latest in a series of executions by the regime in response to unprecedented protests across the country.
Iranian official Alireza Akbari was executed for crimes including “human corruption,” according to Mizan, an Iranian judiciary-affiliated outlet. Akbari, accused of spying for the British intelligence service MI6, was reportedly paid more than $2 million in various currencies – 1.805 million euros, 265,000 pounds and $50,000 – Iranian state media reported on Saturday. .
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “horrified by the execution”. He added on Twitter: “This is a callous and cowardly act, perpetrated by a brutal regime that does not respect the human rights of its own people. My heart goes out to Alireza’s friends and family.”
According to Iranian media reports, Akbari allegedly provided foreign officials with information on 178 Iranian figures, including the country’s chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. According to the state-affiliated Fars News, Fahrizad was killed in 2020 by a remote-controlled machine gun operated from outside the car. Senior Iranian officials accused Israel of orchestrating the plot at the time, but provided no evidence.
According to state news agency IRNA, Akbari allegedly carried out his intelligence work through the guise of a private company focused on research and trade activities, working directly with research institutions in London that Iran claimed were led by intelligence officials. IRNA also cited allegations that Akbari met with MI6 intelligence officers and former British ambassador to Iran Richard Dalton.
Iran’s Supreme Court upheld Akbari’s death sentence after finding it was based on “conclusive evidence,” according to the IRNA.
Mizan did not specify when the execution would take place. Just days earlier, on 11 January, Akbari’s death sentence was announced following his conviction for British espionage. Akbari has denied the allegations.
Akbari was arrested “some time ago,” according to the charges published in Mizan on Wednesday. The BBC reported that Akbari was arrested in 2019.
“On this basis, after the indictment of the accused, the submission of documents to the court and the holding of a hearing in the presence of the accused’s lawyer, he was sentenced to death for espionage based on the valid documents in the file of this person. England,” Mizan said.
According to Shargh Daily, Iran’s pro-reform media outlet, Akbari previously served as Iran’s deputy defense minister, head of the Institute of Strategic Studies and a member of the military organization that implements the United Nations resolution to end the Iran-Iraq war. According to the BBC, he was Served under Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who served from 1997 to 2005.
Although Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, the execution of a man who holds British citizenship could further heighten tensions between Tehran and Western democracies that have been critical of the regime’s response to anti-government demonstrations that began last September. reaction.
Iran has long ranked among the world’s top executioners, and Akbari is one of three people to be sentenced to death in the first weeks of 2023. Two young men, a karate champion and a volunteer children’s trainer, were hanged last weekend after being sentenced to death. Killed a member of the country’s Basij paramilitary forces. Both are said to have taken part in protests that began with the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, while in the custody of the country’s morality police.
Amini’s death sparked mass demonstrations across the country against a regime often criticized as a theocratic dictatorship.
Critics have accused Tehran of using excessive force against the protests — militant group HRANA and Iranian human rights groups say 481 protesters have been killed — and of using the country’s unfair justice system to intimidate would-be demonstrators. UN human rights chief Volker Turk said Tehran was “weaponizing” the criminal process to carry out “state-sanctioned killings” of protesters.
As many as 41 more protesters have been sentenced to death in recent months, though the number is likely to be much higher, according to statements by Iranian officials and Iranian media reviewed by CNN and 1500Tasvir.
Iranian state media reported that dozens of government agents were killed in the unrest, from security officials to officials from the Basij military force.
Although Akbari’s execution appeared to have nothing to do with the recent protests, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley claimed the act was “politically motivated”. He said Iran’s chargé d’affaires would be called for the execution “to demonstrate our disgust with Iran’s actions.”
“The execution of British-Iranian Alireza Akbari was an act of barbarity and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Through this politically motivated act, the Iranian regime has once again demonstrated its ruthlessness towards human life,” Cleverly tweeted Special said. “This will not be challenged.”
The British government had urged Iran not to execute Akbari, and the Foreign Office said it would continue to support his family.
Amnesty International called Akbari’s execution “particularly horrific” and a “hateful violation of the right to life”. Rights groups claim Akbari has said he was forcibly injected with chemicals, held in solitary confinement for lengthy periods and forced to repeatedly record “confessions”.
Amnesty International urged the UK government to “fully investigate” the allegations of torture and ill-treatment and “pursue all avenues to hold Iranian authorities accountable”.