Dual British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari has been executed in Iran, according to state media.
Earlier this week, the family of Akbari said it had been asked to go to his prison for a “final visit” and that he had been moved to solitary confinement, as Britain repeated its call for Tehran not to carry out the execution.
“Iran must halt the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari and immediately release him,” the British foreign secretary, James Cleverly had tweeted this week.
“This is a politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life.”
But early on Saturday, state media reported it had executed Akbari despite the international outcry.
Akbari, who once served in Iran’s defence ministry, had been accused of spying, an allegation he denied. The Associated Press said that Iran’s Mizan news agency, that is associated with the country’s judiciary, said he had been hanged.
There was no immediate reaction from Akbar’s family. Earlier this week, his wife, Maryam, told the BBC she had been asked to pay her husband a “final visit”, as the family prepared for what might happen.
There was no independent confirmation that the execution had been carried out. However, there had been rumours it may have taken place several days ago.
It did not say when it happened. However, there were rumors he had been executed days ago.
Iran had accused Akbari, without offering evidence, of being a spy for Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency.
It aired a highly edited video of Akbari discussing the allegations resembling others that activists have described as coerced confessions.
During the video, he was asked about the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was shot dead in 2020.
“They wanted to know about high-ranking officials depending on the major developments … for example he (the British agent) asked me whether Fakhrizadeh could be involved in such and such projects and I said why not,” Akbari said in the clip.
On Friday, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel criticized the pending execution.
“The charges against Ali Reza Akbari and his sentencing to execution were politically motivated. His execution would be unconscionable,” she said.
“We are greatly disturbed by the reports that Mr Akbari was drugged, tortured while in custody, interrogated for thousands of hours, and forced to make false confessions.”
Iran, whose relationship with the West has steadily worsened since the US pulled out of a joint nuclear agreement, has been rocked in recent months by anti-government protests.
The protests were triggered following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaking the country’s strict dress code. She collapsed at a detention centre and died three days later in hospital.
In recent weeks, the authorities have executed a number of the alleged protesters, among them a karate champion, and a volunteer children’s coach.
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