Alireza Akbari: the British-Iranian executed by Tehran

Iran has executed British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported on Saturday, after sentencing the former Iranian deputy defence minister to death on charges of spying for Britain.

Here are some details about Akbari and his case:

  • He fought during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s in the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards and had a commanding role in developing Iranian strategy in the conflict, according to an audio recording purportedly from Akbari and broadcast by BBC Persian on Jan. 11.
  • He served as deputy defence minister when Ali Shamkhani was minister from 1997 to 2005, part of the administration of reformist President Mohammad Khatami. He had been a close ally of Shamkhani – currently the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council – since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

He served in other security roles including as an advisor to the Iranian navy, and led the implementation of U.N. resolution 598 that ended the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

According to a caption in a video aired by Iran’s state news agency IRNA on Thursday, Akbari moved to Britain after being briefly detained and released on bail in 2008. Reuters could not verify if Akbari had moved to Britain in 2008, or when he returned to Iran.

He was arrested in 2019. In the audio recording broadcast by BBC Persian, he said he had returned to Tehran following an invitation by a senior Iranian diplomat involved in Tehran’s nuclear talks with world powers.

In the recording, he said security authorities pressured judges to issue a sentence carrying the death penalty against him. “The tribunal agreed to release me on a low bail but the Intelligence Ministry stopped that. The Supreme Court voted against the death pnalty, but the Intelligence Ministry imposed its will by threatening the judge.”

His wife, Maryam Samadi, told BBC Persian he was put in solitary confinement for 10 months, before being moved to Tehran’s Evin prison, where Iran has incarcerated other.