Iran announced on Saturday the execution of an Iranian-British man sentenced to death for spying for British intelligence, sparking outrage from Western countries and NGOs.
• Read also: Man sentenced to death in Iran for spying for UK
Former senior official in Iran’s Defense Ministry, Alireza Akbari, 61, was hanged after being sentenced to death for ‘corruption on Earth and undermining the country’s internal and external security for transmitting intelligence’ to the Kingdom United, according to the agency of the Judicial Authority Mizan Online.
Three days ago Mizan Online announced the death sentence of Alireza Akbari presented by the Iranian agency as having been a “key spy” for the British “Secret Intelligence Service” (SIS), also known as MI6.
The United Kingdom, like the United States, had urged Iran not to carry out the execution of this Iranian-British, who had been detained for more than two years.
In a tweet, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denounced a “ruthless and cowardly” condemnation.
I am appalled by the execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari in Iran.
This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people. My thoughts are with Alireza’s friends and family.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) January 14, 2023
Its head of diplomacy James Cleverly indicated that London would summon the Iranian charge d’affaires and that this “barbaric act” will “not go unanswered”. He then announced sanctions against the Attorney General of Iran, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri.
The United States said it was “horrified” by the execution. “Arbitrary detentions, coerced confessions, and politically motivated executions are completely unacceptable and must stop,” the State Department said.
“The execution of Alireza Akbari is a heinous and barbaric act (…),” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron.
The execution of Alireza Akbari is a heinous and barbaric act. His name is added to the too long list of victims of repression and the death penalty in Iran. Solidarity with the United Kingdom. Solidarity with the Iranian people.
—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 14, 2023
In Tehran, the Foreign Office summoned the British ambassador, stressing that “the British government must be held responsible for having established unconventional contacts” which represented “an attack on the national security” of the country.
A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), Alireza Akbari was notably Deputy Minister of Defense for Foreign Affairs, head of a unit in a ministerial research center and adviser to the Commander of the Navy, according to the official Irna agency.
He was arrested between March 2019 and March 2020, according to Irna. Mizan Online accused him of receiving payments of over two million dollars for his services.
Iran regularly announces the arrest of people presented as working for foreign intelligence services. Four Iranians accused of cooperating with Israeli intelligence services were executed in early December.
According to Amnesty International, Iran is the country that executes the most, apart from China.
US diplomat Vedant Patel on Friday voiced his country’s ‘strong concerns’ after reports that Akbari had been ‘drugged, tortured in police custody, interrogated for thousands of hours and coerced into making a false confession’ .
Sanctions against the Guardians?
Iranian media recently released a video showing what they say is Alireza Akbari’s confession to how he was approached by MI6.
But human rights activists regularly accuse Iran of forcing detainees to make false confessions.
On Twitter, Amnesty International denounced the execution and called on the British government to “fully investigate” allegations of torture against Alireza Akbari.
On Twitter, prominent Iranian lawyer Saeid Dehghan claimed the execution was “political”, citing possible measures by London and the European Union (EU) to sanction the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s ideological army , for their role in suppressing protests sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini.
The 22-year-old Iranian Kurd had been arrested three days earlier in Tehran by morality police for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
According to the director of the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, “the fact that Iran carried out this execution while the UK and the EU are considering listing the Revolutionary Guards on terrorist lists shows that it is part of Iran’s hostage-taking policy”.
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