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Friday 31 March 2023 Dublin: 10°C
KhabarOnline News Agency via AP Alireza Akbari speaks in an interview in 2019
# Alireza Akbari
Rishi Sunak condemns 'callous' execution of British-Iranian man accused of spying
Tehran’s state media has announced that the former Iranian defence minister had been put to death.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 14th 2023, 9:28 AM

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has condemned Iran for the “callous and cowardly” decision to execute British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari.

Sunak said he was “appalled” by Tehran’s “barbaric regime” after its state media announced the killing.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly vowed that the action taken by Iran would “not stand unchallenged” by the UK.

Iranian state media announced today that Akbari had been put to death.

He 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.

He denied the charge and said he was tortured and forced to confess on camera to crimes he did not commit, BBC Persian reported.

Sunak, writing on Twitter, 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.”

Cleverly also posted on social media saying: “Iran has executed a British national.

“This barbaric act deserves condemnation in the strongest possible terms.

“This will not stand unchallenged. My thoughts are with Alireza Akbari’s family.” 

In its report, the Iranian Students’ News agency said: “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.”

Earlier this week, Akbari’s wife Maryam told BBC Persian she was invited to a “final meeting” at the prison where he was put in solitary confinement.

International reports said there were rumours Akbari, who was seen as a moderate in Iranian politics, might have been executed “days ago”.

David Lammy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, said Iran’s Islamic Republic “must be held accountable” for what he said were “flagrant breaches of human rights and international law” following the execution of the dual national.

Yesterday, Cleverly had warned Tehran that London was watching the case “closely”.

He tweeted yesterday: “The Iranian regime should be in no doubt. We are watching the case of Alireza Akbari closely.

“Iran must not follow through with their brutal threat of execution.” 

Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Alicia Kearns previously accused the Iranians of seeking to “weaponise” dual nationals as anti-government protests convulse the country.

“It is another horrifying example of the Iranian regime – because they feel they are cornered, because there is such significant pressure from sanctions – weaponising British nationals and industrialising hostage-taking,” she told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

She said Akbari may have been singled out by the regime because of his closeness to a leading Iranian moderate who has led calls for dialogue and discussion.

Tehran has detained a number of dual and foreign nationals in recent years, including British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was held in 2016 and released last year.

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