Tehran, Jan 14 (EFE).- Iran has executed British-Iranian citizen and former deputy defense minister Alireza Akbari who had been convicted of spying for British intelligence, local media reported Saturday.
Rishi Sunak, the British prime minister, said he was “appalled by the execution,” which he described as “callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime.”
The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that Akbari was executed on Saturday, four days after the Iranian intelligence ministry announced he would face the death penalty.
The ministry claimed Akbari had been a “key spy” for the United Kingdom’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency.
The United States on Friday joined the UK in calling for the execution to be halted.
Vedant Patel, state department spokesman, said: “We echo the British government’s strong call for Iran not to proceed with this execution and to release Mr. Akbari immediately. The charges against Ali-Reza Akbari and his sentencing to execution were politically motivated. His execution would be unconscionable.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been accused of using prisoners with dual nationality as bargaining chips to pressure the international community, a tactic dubbed by human rights organizations as hostage diplomacy.
Akbari served as Iran’s deputy defense minister from 2000-2008 under the mandate of reformist president Mohamed Katami.
His execution comes amid widespread protests in Iran sparked in September last year following the death in police custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, who was allegedly arrested for failing to wear the obligatory Islamic veil.
Tehran has accused the US, Israel, the UK, France and Germany of stoking the protests, in which nearly 500 people have been killed in a police clampdown, according to NGOs.
At least four people have been executed for their alleged role in the demonstrations and 17 others face the death penalty.
Iran, which carries out executions by hanging, has one of the highest use of death sentences in the world. In 2021, an estimated 246 people were executed by the Islamic Republic. EFE