Iran executes former deputy defense minister, accusing him of being an MI6 spy

Ali ShamkhaniIRAN ANNOUNCED ON SATURDAY one of the most high-profile executions in its recent history, involving Alireza Akbari, who served as the Islamic Republic’s deputy minister of defense in the 2000s. Akbari, 61, a dual Iranian-British citizen, was reportedly executed by hanging on or before January 14.

As a government official, Akbari was associated with the Iranian Reformists, who were particularly prominent in the early 2000s during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. Akbari served as deputy defense minister under Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani (1997-2005), a two-star general. General Shamkhani (pictured), an Iranian Arab, currently chairs Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. He is among the few Reformists who today remain in positions of power in Iran.

Akbari’s tenure was cut short in 2005, when Khatami was succeeded in the presidency by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardliner, who made sweeping changes in government administration. After he was briefly detained by pro-Ahmadinejad hardliners, Akbari moved to the United Kingdom in 2008, and established a small but reputable think-tank. By 2019, he had acquired British citizenship and was active in Iranian politics, but from afar. But in 2019, Akbari was invited to visit Iran by an unnamed “senior Iranian diplomat”, ostensibly to assist in negotiations with Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program. Having previously helped in international negotiations at the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq War in the late 1980s, Akbari agreed to travel to Tehran.

However, the invitation was part of what the Iranians later described as a “deception operation”, which marked the culmination of a “long and multi-layered process involving counterintelligence”. Akbari’s arrest in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport was the last time Akbari was seen in public. Iranian prosecutors later described Akbari as a “key spy” for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and accused him of working for an MI6 front company. In that role, they claimed, Akbari gave MI6 information about nearly 200 Iranian officials, for which he was paid over $2 million in a variety of currencies. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: