British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari executed by Iran, state media says
Mr Akbari was arrested in 2019 and accused of espionage
British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari has been executed by Iran, its state media has said.
A statement from the Iranian Students’ News Agency stated: “The sentence of Alireza Akbari, the son of Ali with dual Iranian-British citizenship, who was sentenced to death on charges of corruption in the land and widespread action against the country’s internal and external security through espionage for the intelligence apparatus of the British government, was executed.”
Mr Akbari was an Iranian former deputy defence minister who was arrested in 2019 and accused of espionage for MI6 related to past nuclear talks between Iran and western nations, according to reports.
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He denied the charge and said he was tortured and forced to confess on camera to crimes he did not commit, BBC Persian reported.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, writing on Twitter after Iranian state media announced Tehran had executed Alireza Akbari, said: “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.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “The execution of British-Iranian Alireza Akbari is a barbaric act that deserves condemnation in the strongest possible terms. Through this politically motivated act, the Iranian regime has once again shown its callous disregard for human life.
“This will not stand unchallenged and we will be summoning the Iranian Charge d’Affaires to make clear our disgust at Iran’s actions. Our thoughts are with Mr Akbari’s family.”
Iranian state media broadcast a video on Thursday that they said showed that Akbari played a role in the 2020 assassination of Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, killed in a 2020 attack outside Tehran which authorities blamed at the time on Israel.
In the video, Akbari did not confess to involvement in the assassination but said a British agent had asked for information about Fakhrizadeh.
Iran’s state media often airs purported confessions by suspects in politically charged cases.
Reuters could not establish the authenticity of the state media video and audio, or when or where they were recorded.
Ties between London and Tehran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts have stalled to revive Iran's 2015 nuclear pact, to which Britain is a party.
Britain has also been critical of the Islamic Republic's violent crackdown on anti-government protests, sparked by the death in custody of a young Iranian-Kurdish woman in September.
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