Iran Sentences Former Defense Official to Death

Britain demands Tehran spare the life of dual citizen Ali Reza Akbari
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2023 6:10 PM CST
Iran to Execute Man Who Says He Was Tortured 3K Hours
Ali Reza Akbari in a 2019 file photo. He has been sentenced to death in Iran.   (KhabarOnline News Agency via AP)

Iran is poised to execute a former defense official it accuses of being a spy for Britain. And Britain is demanding that Tehran spare the life of Ali Reza Akbari, who has dual British-Iranian citizenship, reports the BBC. "This is a politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life," tweeted British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. Akbari served as deputy defense minister more than 20 years ago under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, reports CNN. He was believed to have been arrested in 2019 and has not been seen in public since, per the AP. State media said this week he had been convicted of espionage.

The BBC obtained an audio message from Akbari in which he says he was "interrogated and tortured" by Iranian intelligence agents "for more than 3,500 hours." He added that "during all those 3,500 hours, which took more than 10 months, they were recording my confessions with 10 cameras to make their Hollywood-style film." Akbara also said he was given psychedelic drugs and coerced into making false confessions on video. Reuters reports that Iranian media published one such video of Akbari that suggests he played a role in the 2020 assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the nation's top nuclear scientist. (More Iran stories.)

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