TEHRAN -- Alireza Akbari, a former Iranian official, has been executed after he was sentenced to death on charges of spying for the British intelligence agency, the Mizan news agency of Iran’s Judiciary said Saturday.
The convict of “corruption on earth” and “extensive activities against the country’s internal and external security” through espionage for the British government’s spy agency was hanged early Saturday, it said.
The news agency said Akbari, who was arrested in 2019, had received 1,805,000 euros, 265,000 pounds, and $50,000 for spying for the United Kingdom.
Mizan said the trial of Akbari was held on January 11 in the presence of his lawyer and the death sentence was issued based on incontrovertible evidence against him.
“Akbari collected important information about the country on strategic issues in the field of domestic and foreign policy, regional, defense, missile, nuclear negotiations and economic issues related to sanctions and submitted it to British intelligence officers knowingly in a targeted manner,” the news agency said.
“On this basis and after filing an indictment against the accused, the file was referred to court and hearings were held in the presence of the accused’s lawyer and based on valid documents in the person’s file, he was sentenced to death for spying for the UK.”
Akbari’s death sentence was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court after the 61-year-old appealed it.
In a statement on Wednesday, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry described Akbari, a former deputy defense minister, as “one of the most intrusive agents of the intelligence service of the evil UK” infiltrating the country’s sensitive and strategic centers, noting that he was identified and arrested after a “long and multi-layered process” involving “counter-intelligence” and “deception operations.”
The spy, according to the ministry, had sent intelligence gleaned from sensitive centers to the enemy on several occasions while being “completely aware” of his actions.
Akbari, Mizan said, confessed to his contacts with Britain and said he had been questioned by the British intelligence agency about Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated in a terrorist attack in November 2020.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly appealed for the spy’s release when reports of his planned execution emerged earlier in the week, saying in a tweet, “Iran must halt the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari and immediately release him.”
The United Kingdom has a long history of spying activities in Iran which can be traced back to the 1953 coup against the democratically-elected government of Muhammad Mosaddeq.
Iranian intelligence forces have arrested many foreign-linked spies over the past years, who had been involved in acts of sabotage against Iranian people and facilities in the past decades.
The British government was also actively involved in instigating the recent riots in Iran after the death of a young woman of Kurdish descent.
On Saturday, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned British Ambassador Simon Shercliff over the UK’s interference in Iran’s internal affairs, particularly in issues pertaining to national security.
“In reaction to Britain’s unconventional interventions, including in the national security field of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Simon Shercliffe, the country’s ambassador to Tehran, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the director general of Western Europe,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Iranian official conveyed to the British government the Islamic Republic’s protest over London’s destructive measures which run counter to Iran’s national security.
The official told Shercliff that Iran had obtained solid information about London’s unconventional communication with Akbari, saying the UK government should be held accountable for violating the Islamic Republic’s national security.
He said that the “unjustified and mischievous support” for the spying agent is not compatible with the claim of relations based on mutual respect.
He said Iran would not need permission from other countries, including Britain, to take a firm action to protect its national security, and warned that the continuation of such “illegal” moves would not be acceptable at all.
The British government must accept the consequences of the continuation of such unconventional and interventionist approach, the Iranian diplomat added.
He noted that Iran’s civil law does not recognize dual nationality and therefore London’s destructive interference and remarks under such a pretext have no legal basis.
The Iranian official also condemned any unorthodox move which threatens national security and called on the British diplomat to inform his respective country of Iran’s protest.
The summon came after Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Saturday threatened that Akbari’s execution would not go unchallenged.
“This barbaric act deserves condemnation in the strongest possible terms. This will not stand unchallenged,” Cleverly said.
Meanwhile, the UK foreign secretary said his country had placed sanctions on Iran’s Prosecutor General Muhammad Jafar Montazeri.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna later Saturday summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Paris over Akbari’s execution, saying it “cannot go unanswered.”
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