According to a state-affiliated media outlet, Iran hung a dual British-Iranian citizen on suspicions of espionage and corruption on Saturday. This was the most recent in a succession of executions carried out by a regime coping with unprecedented nationwide protests.

According to the Iranian judiciary-affiliated publication Mizan, the official from Iran, Alireza Akbari, was put to death for offenses like “corruption on earth.” According to Iranian state media on Saturday, Akbari was accused of spying for the British intelligence organization MI6 and paid more than $2 million in several currencies, including 1.805 million euros, 265,000 British pounds, and $50,000.

The execution, according to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, “appalled me.” This was a callous and cowardly act, committed by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people, he continued on Twitter. Friends and family of Alireza are in my thoughts.

According to Iranian media, Akbari allegedly gave information to foreign officials about 178 Iranian individuals, including the nation’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. According to Fars News, a state-affiliated publication, Fakhrizadeh was murdered in 2020 by a remote-controlled machine gun fired from a moving vehicle. At the time, Iran’s top leaders claimed that Israel was responsible for the scheme without offering any proof.

Iran’s national news agency IRNA stated that Akbari worked directly with research institutions in London that it claimed were run by intelligence officers while hiding his actions under the facade of a commercial enterprise devoted to research and trade. IRNA also highlighted claims that Akbari met with Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran, and an MI6 intelligence operative.

According to IRNA, Iran’s Supreme Court affirmed Akbari’s death sentence after finding that it was supported by “substantiated evidence.”

Ad Feedback Mizan did not provide a date for the execution. Just a few days ago, on January 11, Akbari’s death sentence was officially revealed following his conviction for spying for the United Kingdom. Akbari had refuted the allegations.

On December 21, protesters in The Hague were seen carrying a noose over their necks. The protest demanded that the Iranian embassy in the Netherlands be shut down and its diplomats were to be expelled.
Iran has a history of executions, but this one is unique.
Akbari had allegedly been detained “some time ago,” according to allegations that were reported in Mizan on Wednesday. According to the BBC, Akbari was detained in 2019.

The accused was condemned to death for espionage for the UK based on the admissible evidence in his file, Mizan said. “On this basis and following the filing of an indictment against the accused, the file was sent to court and hearings were held in the presence of the accused’s lawyer.”

According to Iranian pro-reform publication Shargh Daily, Akbari formerly held the positions of deputy defense minister, head of the Strategic Research Institute, and member of the military group that carried out the United Nations resolution that ended the Iran-Iraq conflict. According to the BBC, he worked for Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a reformer who presided over the country from 1997 to 2005.

The execution of a person with dual citizenship, despite the fact that Iran does not recognize it, is expected to increase tensions between Tehran and Western democracies, who have criticized the regime’s response to anti-government protests that started in September of last year.

Akbari is one of three people who will be given the death penalty in the first few weeks of 2023. Iran has a lengthy history of being one of the world’s top executioners. Last Saturday, two young men—one a karate champion and the other a volunteer children’s coach—were hung for the murder of a Basij paramilitary force member. Both were said to have participated in the demonstrations that broke out after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, passed away while being held by the nation’s morality police.

Massive statewide protests against a government that is frequently called a theocracy and a dictatorship were organized in response to Amini’s passing.

On September 21, 2022, days after Mahsa Amini passed away in police detention, Iranian demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran in a protest. This image was received by AFP from outside Iran.
On September 21, 2022, days after Mahsa Amini passed away in police detention, Iranian demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran in a protest. This image was received by AFP from outside Iran.
Getty Images/AFP
Activist groups HRANA and Iran Human Rights claim that 481 protesters have died as a result of Tehran’s use of excessive force in response to demonstrations. Critics also charge that Tehran intimidates potential protestors by abusing the country’s unfair court system. Volker Türk, the head of the UN human rights office, claimed Tehran was “weaponizing” legal processes to carry out “state-sanctioned murdering” of protestors.

According to claims from Iranian authorities and articles in Iranian media examined by CNN and 1500Tasvir, as many as 41 more protestors may have been given death sentences in recent months. However, the actual figure may be far higher.

Numerous government agents, including security personnel and members of the basij paramilitary group, have reportedly been murdered in the disturbance, according to Iranian state television.

Since the passing of Mahsa Amini in September, countless numbers of people have gathered in the streets.
Since the passing of Mahsa Amini in September, countless numbers of people have gathered in the streets.
Getty Images, AFP, and Stringer
James Cleverley, the British Foreign Secretary, claimed that Akbari’s execution was “politically motivated” despite the fact that it appeared at first glance that it had nothing to do with the recent protests. To “make apparent our disapproval at Iran’s actions,” he claimed, the charge d’affaires of Iran will be called in to discuss the killing.

“Alireza Akbari, a British-Iranian, was executed in a brutal crime that demands the harshest possible condemnation. The Iranian dictatorship has once again demonstrated its callous contempt for human life through this politically motivated conduct, Cleverly wrote on Twitter. “This will not go unopposed.”

The Foreign Office announced that it would continue to assist Akbari’s family. The UK government had pleaded with Iran not to execute Akbari.

The death of Akbari was dubbed “especially terrible” and a “abhorrent attack on the right to life” by Amnesty International. According to the rights organization, Akbari claimed he was routinely compelled to record “confessions,” given chemical drugs against his will, and kept in solitary confinement for an extended period of time.

Amnesty demanded that the UK government “thoroughly investigate” these claims of torture and cruel treatment and “pursue all options to make the Iranian authorities accountable.”

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