Alireza Akbari: Iran executes British-Iranian dual national, state media says

British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari, who was sentenced to death in Iran, has been executed, Iranian state media says.

Mr Akbari’s family had been asked to go to his prison for a “final visit” on Wednesday and his wife said he had been moved to solitary confinement.

The ex-deputy Iranian defence minister was arrested in 2019 and convicted of spying for the UK, which he denied.

The UK had urged Iran to halt the execution and immediately release him.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had described the death sentence as a “politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life”.

The Iranian judiciary’s official news outlet Mizan reported that Alireza Akbari had been hanged, without specifying the date when the execution took place.

Iran posted a video of Mr Akbari earlier this week showing what appeared to be forced confessions.

Iran’s intelligence ministry said Mr Akbari had been “one of the most important agents of the British intelligence service in Iran”.

However BBC Persian broadcast an audio message on Wednesday from Mr Akbari in which he said he was tortured and forced to confess on camera to crimes he did not commit.

The United States had joined calls for Iran not to execute Mr Akbari – US diplomat Vedant Patel said “his execution would be unconscionable”.

Mr Patel said on Friday that “the charges against Alireza Akbari and his sentencing were politically motivated”.

Earlier this week, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson told the BBC that it was supporting Mr Akbari’s family and had repeatedly raised his case with Iranian authorities.

It had requested urgent consular access, but Iran’s government does not recognise dual nationality for Iranians.

In Mr Akbari’s audio message he said that he was living abroad a few years ago when he was invited to visit Iran at the request of a top Iranian diplomat who was involved in nuclear talks with world powers.

Once there, he adds, he was accused of obtaining top secret intelligence from the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, “in exchange for a bottle of perfume and a shirt”.

Mr Akbari alleged that he was “interrogated and tortured” by intelligence agents “for more than 3,500 hours”.

“By using physiological and psychological methods, they broke my will, drove me to madness and forced me to do whatever they wanted,” he said. “By the force of gun and death threats they made me confess to false and corrupt claims.”

He also accused Iran of seeking “to take revenge on the UK by executing me”.

Hours after the audio message was broadcast, the Mizan news agency confirmed for the first time that Mr Akbari had been found guilty of espionage, and that the Supreme Court had rejected his appeal.

Ties between the UK and Iran have deteriorated in recent months since the UK imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police and other top security figures, in response to the country’s violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Iran has arrested dozens of Iranians with dual nationality or foreign permanent residency in recent years, mostly on spying and national security charges.

British-Iranian citizens Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released and allowed to leave Iran last year after the UK settled a longstanding debt owed to Iran.

However, at least two other British-Iranians remain in detention, including Morad Tahbaz, who also holds US citizenship.


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