Iran executes British-Iranian ex-politician Alireza Akbari; Sunak condemns action

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Iran executed former British-Iranian top politician, Alireza Akbari, over espionage charges on Saturday, the Misan judicial website announced.

Raisi

Iran had sentenced the former top politician to death earlier in the week. Akbari, his wife and his brother had vehemently denied the accusations.

Mizan wrote on Wednesday that Akbari had been unmasked as one of the “most important agents for British intelligence” and charged with revealing state secrets.

The verdict by the Supreme Court is final, it added.

Alireza Akbari

Akbari was arrested in 2019, according to media reports.

He served as deputy defence minister from 1997 to 2002.

The minister at the time was Ali Shamkhani, now the head of the Supreme National Security Council.

Between 2014 and 2015, Akbari had accompanied the Iranian delegation to nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

The Iranian security authorities allege that he passed on secret information to British intelligence in both capacities.

Observers see the case as an internal power struggle, with hardliners around President Ebrahim Raisi seeking to discredit Shamkhani.

He is said to have voiced criticism about police brutality against demonstrators and to have sought mediation.

Akbari had cultivated a close relationship with politicians who were trying to mediate and reconcile after Iran’s recent wave of protests, the British-based amwaj.media website reported.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said he was ‘appaled’ by Akbari’s execution.

Sunak

“This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people,” Sunak wrote on Twitter.

Akbari had denied the charges against him and said he was tortured and forced to confess on camera to crimes he did not commit, the Persian service of Britain’s BBC broadcaster reported, according to PA Media.

Earlier in the week, Akbari’s wife Maryam told BBC Persian she had been invited to a “final meeting” at the prison where he was put in solitary confinement, PA wrote.

It is unclear how Akbari was able to acquire British nationality, as dual citizens are not allowed to hold senior political offices in Iran.

There have been repeated reports of arrests, detentions and even executions of Iranian agents suspected of working for foreign intelligence services, especially the Israeli agency Mossad or the CIA in the US.

The Iranian claims usually cannot be independently verified, and arrests and trials are kept secret. 

British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, also took to Twitter, saying the “barbaric act” deserved “condemnation in the strongest terms.”

“This will not stand unchallenged,” Cleverly wrote.

Iran had sentenced the former top politician to death earlier in the week over espionage charges.

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