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Rishi Sunak condemns ‘callous and cowardly’ execution of British national ‘Alireza Akbari’


Rishi Sunak has condemned the “ruthless and cowardly” execution of a British-Iranian dual national in Iran.

Alireza Akbari, who once served in Iran’s Defense Ministry, had been accused of espionage, an allegation he denied. Iran’s Mizan news agency, associated with the country’s judiciary, said he had been hanged.

Mr Sunak, writing on Twitter on Saturday morning, said: “I am appalled at the execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari in Iran.

Former Iranian Deputy Defense Minister, British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari


“It was a ruthless and cowardly act, perpetrated by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of its own people,” continued the Prime Minister. “My thoughts are with Alireza’s friends and family.”

The chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns, further described Iran as a “terrorist state” whose actions were “heinous”.

Mr Akbari was arrested in 2019 and charged with spying for MI6 linked to past nuclear talks between Iran and Western countries.

Foreign Minister James Cleverly had called on the Iranian authorities on Friday not to prosecute.

“Iran must end the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari and release him immediately,” Cleverly tweeted this week. “This is a politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has complete disregard for human life.”

On Saturday morning, after the execution was announced, the minister said the killing would not go “uncontested”.

Mr. Akbari was arrested in 2019

(Khabar Online/AFP via Getty Imag)

“Iran has executed a British national,” he tweeted. “This barbaric act deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms. This will not go unchallenged. My thoughts are with Alireza Akbari’s family.

Ms Kearns has previously accused Iranians of seeking to “arm” dual nationals as anti-government protests rock the country.

“This is another horrific example of the Iranian regime – because it feels cornered, because the sanctions pressure is so great – arming British nationals and industrializing hostage-taking,” she told AFP. BBC Radio 4 PM broadcast.

She said Mr Akbari may have been chosen by the regime because of his closeness to a prominent Iranian moderate who has made calls for dialogue and discussion.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the execution

(PA wire)

On Saturday, Ms Kearns told Sky News: “We cannot allow Iran to set the narrative and it is up to us to answer it.

“What we see now is a country, a regime that is cornered. We have to act and stop them setting the agenda.”

When asked if the West had been “too lenient” with the Iranian regime, she replied: “If you don’t have hope, if you don’t act with the best possible results at mind, you won’t get anything.

“But you have to plan for failure. Now is the time to reflect and change your posture.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released from detention in Iran last year after years separated from her family in the UK

(Getty Images)

A statement from the Iranian Student News Agency announced Mr. Akbar’s death.

“The conviction of Alireza Akbari, Ali’s son with dual Iranian-British nationality, who was sentenced to death for corruption in the country and general action against the internal and external security of the country through espionage for the intelligence apparatus of the British government, was executed,” he said.

Earlier this week, Mr Akbari’s wife, Maryam, told BBC Persian she had been invited to a “final meeting” at the prison where he was placed in solitary confinement.

Tehran has detained a number of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years, including British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was detained in 2016 until her release last year.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been contacted for comment.

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