Iran hangs former defense ministry official over spy claim


Iran said Saturday it had executed a dual Iranian-British national who once worked for its defense ministry, despite an international outcry over his death sentence and those of others held amid nationwide protests.

Iran’s Mizan news agency, associated with the country’s judiciary, announced Ali Reza Akbari’s hanging.

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 MI-6 intelligence agency. It aired a highly edited video of Akbari discussing the allegations resembling others that activists have described as coerced confessions.

On Friday, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel criticized Akbari’s 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.”

She added: “More broadly, Iran’s practices of arbitrary and unjust detentions, forced confessions, and politically motivated executions are completely unacceptable and must end.”

Britain’s Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had earlier called on Iran to stop the execution.

“The Iranian regime should be in no doubt,” he wrote Friday online. “We are watching the case of Ali Reza Akbari closely.”

Iran’s government for months has been trying to allege — without offering evidence — that foreign countries have fomented the unrest gripping the Islamic Republic since the death of a woman in September detained by the morality police. Protesters say they are angry over the collapse of the economy, heavy-handed policing and the entrenched power of the country’s Islamic clergy.

Iran is one of the world’s top executioners. (Source: AP)