the main points
- Iranian state media said Alireza Akbari was executed after being sentenced to death.
- The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has accused Alireza Akbari of being a “master spy” for British intelligence.
- UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the execution was “politically motivated”.
Today, Saturday, the judiciary in Iran announced the execution of a former senior defense official with British citizenship, Ali Reza Akbari, accused of spying for British intelligence.
The judiciary news agency Mizan Online reported that Akbari was executed after being sentenced to death for “corruption on earth and harming the country’s internal and external security by transmitting intelligence information.”
She added, “The actions of the British spy service in this case showed the value of the convict, the importance of his arrival, and the enemy’s confidence in him.”
Iran’s official IRNA news agency also reported that Mr. Akbari had been sentenced to death on charges of spying for Britain and acting against Iran’s national security.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly condemned the execution as a “barbaric act”.
In a statement on Twitter, he said the measure “will not stand unchallenged,” adding that it “deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
On Thursday, state media reported that the 61-year-old Akbari held senior positions in the country’s defense establishment.
Among his positions are “Deputy Minister of Defense for Foreign Affairs” and a position in the “Secretariat of the Supreme Council for National Security.”
Akbari was also an “adviser to the commander of the Navy” and “headed a division at the Research Center of the Ministry of Defense.”
In a video released by Iranian media, Akbari is seen talking about what appears to be his contacts with Britain.
He also said the British interrogated him about Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated in November 2020 in an attack that Tehran blames on archenemy Israel.
State media said Akbari, a veteran of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, was arrested sometime between March 2019 and March 2020.
Mizan, citing a statement from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, had said earlier this week that Akbari had become a “master spy” for Britain’s intelligence service, more commonly known as MI6, because of the “importance of his position”.
In February 2019, Iran’s state newspaper published an interview with Akbari, whom it described as “former deputy defense minister” during the 1997-2005 presidency of Mohammad Khatami.
At the time, Mizan said, Iran executed four people accused of working with Israeli intelligence.
Iran executed them four days after the Supreme Court confirmed their death sentence for “their intelligence cooperation with the Zionist regime (Israel) and their kidnapping,” according to Mizan.
Akbari’s execution comes as Iran has been rocked by protests that erupted on Sept. 16 following the death of Mohsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, after she was arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
Iran’s judiciary has confirmed that 18 people have been sentenced to death in connection with the protests, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official announcements.
Of these, four were executed, sparking an international outcry.