Iran to execute British citizen and former minister for being MI6 spy

Rishi Sunak warns of increasing threat from Iran

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Tehran is to execute an Anglo-Iranian man after convicting him of spying for MI6, state media has reported. Alireza Akbari who was previously Iran’s deputy defence minister, was described by the Iranian authorities as “one of the most important infiltrators of the country’s sensitive and strategic centres”.

He was arrested in 2019 but denies the charges.

The Tasnim news agency said the Supreme Court had upheld his sentence and described him as a “key spy” for British intelligence.

Mr Akbari’s wife, Maryam, who lives in the UK told BBC Persian that she had been told to visit him in prison in Tehran for a “final meeting”.

She added that he had been transferred to solitary confinement which is usually a sign of a sign of imminent execution.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly blasted the move as “barbaric” and called for Mr Akbari’s immediate release.

He said: “Iran must halt the execution.

“This is a politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life.”

Mr Akbari, who used to run a private think tank, has not been seen in public since 2019.

Iran’s intelligence ministry described Mr Akbari as “one of the most important agents” of MI6.

In a statement, they added that he had been “compiling and consciously transferring sensitive information”.

According to Tasnim, Mr Akbari was recruited by MI6 during a visit to the British Embassy to collect a visa.

They allege that he then used his connections in Tehran to pass military intelligence to his British handlers.

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BBC Persian broadcast an audio recording by Akbari in which he claimed that he was tortured into confessing to crimes that he did not commit.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said they had been in constant contact with Tehran, lobbying for his release.

They said: “We are supporting the family of Mr Akbari and have repeatedly raised his case with the Iranian authorities.

“Our priority is securing his immediate release.”

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