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Iran Executes Dual Citizen, Akbari For Spying

Alireza Akbari

Britain and international rights organizations strongly condemned Iran’s announcement on Saturday that it had executed a British-Iranian dual national who had been given the death penalty for spying for the United Kingdom.

According to the judiciary’s Mizan Online website, Alireza Akbari, 61, was executed after being found guilty of “corruption on earth and undermining the country’s internal and exterior security by passing on intelligence.” It did not specify the time or location of the execution.

According to Mizan, Akbari, who was detained more than two years prior, worked as a spy for the British MI6 covert intelligence branch and was paid about $2 million for his services.

The execution, according to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left him “appalled.”

Sunak tweeted that “Alireza‘s friends and family” were in his thoughts. He added that “this was a callous and cowardly act, done out by a savage regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people.”

In order to express Britain’s “disgust” at Akbari’s execution, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned on Twitter that the execution would not go unopposed before imposing sanctions against Iran’s prosecutor general.

President Emmanuel Macron called the execution a “heinous and inhumane act,” while the French foreign ministry condemned it “in the strongest terms” and warned it cannot go “unanswered.”

Following the announcement by Britain that it would summon Tehran’s envoy, Iran summoned the British ambassador to protest what it called “unconventional interventions.”

After the United States and its ally Britain urged Iran to postpone the execution, news of the hanging broke just hours later.

The accusations that Akbari had been “drunk, tortured while in detention, interrogated for thousands of hours, and made to make false confessions” have Washington very concerned, according to US diplomat Vedant Patel on Friday.

Forced Admittance

“Abhorrent” is how Amnesty International described the execution.

Akbari has been “subjected to torture and other ill-treatment,” according to a tweet, including “being forced to take chemical substances and detained in protracted solitary confinement.”

This week, a video in which Akbari appeared to discuss his relations with Britain was released by media channels in Iran, a country that does not recognize dual citizenship for its residents.

This week, BBC Persian published an audio message it said was from Akbari in which he claimed he had been tortured and forced to confess to acts he hadn’t committed on camera.

In the recording, a male can be heard saying, “I was given new clothes and ordered to colour my hair to be released but then I was taken to a film studio and threatened with a gun to falsely confess.”

According to Mizan Online, which quoted the intelligence ministry, Akbari had developed into a “key spy” for MI6 because of “the significance of his position.”

Veteran of the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, Akbari was detained between March 2019 and March 2020, according to official media.

He was once listed as the deputy defense minister for Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, in the government’s official Iran daily.

According to state media, Akbari also served as the navy commander’s advisor and oversaw a department at the research center for the defense ministry.

Hostage Diplomacy

In accordance with Mizan, he retired ten years ago and began engaging in “research and commercial operations in the private sector.”

Saeid Dehghan, a well-known Iranian attorney, said on Twitter that Akbari’s conviction and execution were “political.”

Dehghan pointed out that the British parliament is considering designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran as a terrorist organization due to its role in a bloody crackdown on protestors at the same time as his execution.

A similar comment was made by Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the organization Iran Human Rights, based in Oslo.

The killing was carried out by Iran while the UK and EU were debating adding the IRGC to their terror watch lists, he said, demonstrating that it was a part of the Islamic Republic’s hostage diplomacy strategy.

The world’s second-most frequent user of the death penalty, according to Amnesty, is Iran.

Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian citizen who has been detained since 2016 and was given the capital penalty the following year on espionage charges that his family fiercely disputes, is another dual national who is also facing the death penalty.

Iran has been shaken by protests that started after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, was killed on September 16 after being arrested for allegedly breaking the nation’s dress code for women.

In relation to the protests, 18 people have received death sentences, according to a count made by AFP from official statements. Four of them were put to death.

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