The United Kingdom (UK ) A dual British-Iranian citizen was hanged by Iran on charges of espionage and corruption, a state-affiliated media outlet reported Saturday, the latest in a string of executions carried out by a regime grappling with unprecedented protests across the country.
The Iranian official, Alireza Akbari, was executed for crimes including “corruption on earth,” according the Iranian judiciary-affiliated outlet Mizan. Akbari was charged with working as a spy for MI6, the British intelligence agency, and reportedly paid more than $2 million in various currencies – 1.805 million euros, 265,000 British pounds and $50,000 – Iranian state media reported Saturday.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “appalled by the execution.” He added on Twitter: “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 Saturday afternoon that the British government planned to sanction Iran’s Prosecutor General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, to underline “our disgust at Alireza Akbari’s execution.”
“The Prosecutor General is at the heart of Iran’s use of the death penalty. We’re holding the regime to account for its appalling human rights violations,” Cleverly said.
Akbari allegedly provided information to foreign officials about 178 Iranian figures, including country’s chief nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iranian media reported. Fakhrizadeh was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun operating out of a car in 2020, according to state-affiliated Fars News. Iran’s top officials accused Israel of masterminding the plot at the time, without providing evidence.
Akbari purportedly carried out his intelligence work through the veneer of a private company focused on research and trade activities, working directly with research institutes in London that Iran claimed were headed by intelligence officials, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported. IRNA also cited allegations that Akbari had meetings with an MI6 intelligence officer and former British Ambassador to Iran Richard Dalton.
Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death penalty handed down to Akbari after deeming it to be based on “substantiated evidence,” according to IRNA.
Mizan did not specify when the execution was carried out. Akbari’s death sentence was announced just days ago, on January 11, after his conviction on spying for the United Kingdom. Akbari had denied the charges.