Iran sentenced a former high-ranking defense official to death after convicting him of spying for Britain, a state news agency reported Wednesday.
The court said that Alireza Akbariwho was deputy defense minister until 2001, was a “key spy” for British intelligence, according to what was reported by the news agency tasnim. He pointed out that Iranian intelligence services uncovered the espionage by providing him with false information.
Tasnim also reported that the former official had spied on nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers. Akbari was deputy defense minister during the government of the president Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who fought for better relations with the nations of the West.
Tehran has been locked in a conflict with the United States and Israel for years, characterized by covert attacks over its nuclear program. The assassination of top iranian nuclear scientist in 2020, for which Iran blamed Israel, indicated that foreign intelligence services had made great strides.
Akbari, who ran a private think tank, has not been seen in public since 2019, when he was arrested.
Authorities have not released any details about his trial. Those accused of espionage and other crimes related to national security are generally privately courtedwhere human rights groups say they can’t choose their lawyers and can’t see the evidence against them.
tasnim He noted that the Supreme Court upheld his sentence and that the man had access to a lawyer. There was no information about when the execution would take place.
Akbari spearheaded the implementation of a 1988 ceasefire between Iran and Iraq, after a devastating eight-year war and having worked closely with UN observers.
Britain called for the execution to be stopped and for Akbari to be released immediately.
“This is a politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life,” said the foreign secretary, James Cleverleyit’s a statement.
It was not clear when the sentence was handed down for Akbari, who has dual British-Iranian nationality and was detained three years ago.
The convicted person appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal.
The announcement of his death sentence comes amid protests rocking Iran following the death in police custody of Mahsa Aminiafter being arrested for not wearing the Islamic headscarf properly.
During the protests, nearly 500 people have died due to police repression.
At least four people have been executed for their participation in the demonstrations and 17 have been sentenced to hang.
Iran is one of the leading countries in number of executions, with 246 of them in 2021.
(With information from AP and EFE)
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