Human Rights

Iran sentences former official to death for spying for Britain

Iran has sentenced to death a former senior official on charges of espionage for the British intelligence agency MI6, the judiciary-linked Mizan News said on Wednesday.

Alireza Akbari, a former deputy defense minister, was closely connected to the British intelligence agency and was "one of the most important infiltrators” of MI6 in the "sensitive and strategic centers of the country", the broadcaster said.

According to Mizan News, Akbari “collected the important information related to the country and provided it to the British spy service in a fully informed and targeted manner”.

Akbari, who served in the cabinet of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), was arrested “after a long and multi-layered” operations by Iran’s intelligence ministry, the statement said, without specifying the time.

It further said he was recruited by the MI6 intelligence agents while procuring a visa from the British Embassy in Tehran and later became “a full-fledged employee” of the British spy agency.

After his arrest, a case was filed against him, which followed a lengthy trial before he was given the death sentence. His appeal against the sentence was rejected by the country’s apex court.

The announcement came days after reports emerged of a senior Iranian official being “identified, arrested and tried” on charges of spying. The name of the official was not revealed.

Reacting to the announcement, Britain on Wednesday urged Iran to release Akbari, a dual national who also holds British citizenship.

"We are supporting the family of Mr. Akbari and have repeatedly raised his case with the Iranian authorities," a British Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.

"Our priority is securing his immediate release and we have reiterated our request for urgent consular access."

It comes amid months-long protests in Iran triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody in mid-September.

More than a dozen protesters have so far been sentenced to death in connection with the violence-marred protests and four have already been executed.

Source: Anadolu Agency