Ali Reza Akbari, a former high-ranking defence ministry official and dual Iranian-British national was executed by Tehran on Saturday, drawing sharp reactions from several countries, including the UK.

Believed to have been arrested in 2019, Akbari had allegedly received payments of 1,805,000 euros ($1.95 million), 265,000 pounds ($323,989.00), and $50,000 for spying.

The execution could further worsen Iran’s long-strained ties with the West, which have deteriorated since talks to revive its 2015 nuclear deal hit a deadlock and as Tehran unleashed a deadly crackdown on protesters last year.

Who was Ali Reza Akbari?

> Iran has alleged, without providing evidence, that Akbari served as a source for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known popularly as MI6. A lengthy statement issued by Iran’s judiciary claimed Akbari received large sums of money, his British citizenship and other help in London for providing information to the intelligence service.

> Akbari, a close ally of top security official Ali Shamkhani, ran a private think tank. Details of his case only emerged in recent weeks.

> Those accused of espionage and other crimes related to national security are usually tried behind closed doors.

> Iranian state television aired a highly edited video of Akbari discussing the allegations, footage that resembled other claimed confessions that activists have described as coerced confessions.

> But on Wednesday, the BBC Farsi-language service aired an audio message from Akbari in which he described being tortured. “With more than 3,500 hours of torture, psychedelic drugs, and physiological and psychological pressure methods, they took away my will. They drove me to the brink of madness… and forced me to make false confessions by force of arms and death threats,” Akbari said in the audio.

> “With more than 3,500 hours of torture, psychedelic drugs, and physiological and psychological pressure methods, they took away my will. They drove me to the brink of madness… and forced me to make false confessions by force of arms and death threats,” he said.

Condemnations

> British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “appalled by the execution”, saying Tehran had “no respect for the human rights of their own people”. “This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people,” he tweeted.

> US Ambassador to London Jane Hartley called the execution “appalling and sickening”.

> French foreign ministry summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires over the execution, expressing its indignation about the case, it said in a statement.

(With inputs from AP, Reuters)


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