Iran executes British-Iranian national despite plea from UK, US

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The Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna.

Heinz-Peter Bader | Reuters

Iran has executed Alireza Akbari, a British-Iranian national, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported Saturday, after sentencing Iran’s former deputy defense minister to death on charges of treason for Britain.

The British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said late on Friday that Iran should not continue with the execution – a call echoed by the US State Department. Britain had described the death sentence as a political reason and requested that it be released.

Mizan said in a Tweet early Saturday that the sentence had been carried out, without saying when.

“Alireza Akbari, who was sentenced to death on charges of corruption on the ground and a wide action against internal and external security of the country through spying for the intelligence service of the British government … was executed, ” he said.

The report accused Akbari, who was arrested in 2019, of receiving 1,805,000 euros, 265,000 pounds, and $50,000 for treason.

In an audio recording purportedly from Akbari and broadcast by BBC Persian on Wednesday, he said he had confessed to crimes he did not commit after being tortured.

Iranian state media aired a video on Thursday that it said showed Akbari played a role in the 2020 assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed in a 2020 attack outside Tehran that authorities blamed on him Israel at the time.

In the video, Akbari did not admit that he was involved in the murder but said that a British agent had asked for information about Fakhrizadeh.

Iranian state media often broadcasts suspect confessions by suspects in politically charged cases.

Reuters was unable to establish the authenticity of the state media’s video and audio, or when or where they were recorded.

Ties between London and Tehran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, to which Britain is a party, have stalled.

Britain has also been critical of the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on anti-government protests, sparked by the death of a young Iranian-Kurdish woman in custody in September.

A minister from the British Foreign Office said on Thursday that Britain was actively considering banning Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group but had not reached a final decision.

Iran has issued dozens of death sentences as part of a crackdown on unrest, executing at least four people.

In the audio recording broadcast by BBC Persian, Akbari said that he made a false confession as a result of the torture.

“With over 3,500 hours of torture, psychedelic drugs, and physiological and psychological stress methods, they took away my will. They drove me insane… and forced me to make a false confession by force of arms and threats of death. ,” he said.

Akbari was a close friend of Ali Shamkhani, now the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, who served as Defense Minister from 1997 to 2005, when Akbari was his deputy.

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