Iran’s judiciary has issued a death sentence against Alireza Akbari, a former official, on charges of spying for the British intelligence agency.
The trial of Akbari, who was arrested by the intelligence forces on charges of spying for foreign intelligence agencies, was held with the presence of his lawyer and the death sentence was issued based on “substantiated evidence,” Iranian judiciary’s Mizan News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence after he requested an appeal.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in a statement on Wednesday afternoon provided further details about Akbari and his arrest.
It named Akbari, a former deputy defense minister, as “one of the most infiltrating agents of the spying service of the evil UK in the country’s sensitive and strategic centers,” noting that he was identified and arrested after a “long and multi-layered process” involving “counter-intelligence” and “deception operation.”
The “key spy,” according to the ministry, had sent the acquired information from sensitive centers to the enemy’s spy service on several occasions while being “completely aware” of his actions.
Iranian forces spotted Akbari when he met with a number of British intelligence officers in the UK embassy in Tehran as he had gone to the diplomatic mission to collect a visa, reads the statement, adding that he became a “full-fledged employee” of the MI6 during his personal trips to Europe.
Iran’s counter-intelligence forces intervened in the communication between him and the MI6, infusing “guided information” into it, added the statement, noting that he was arrested after a judicial order was issued.
“Although the evil English enemy has managed to take advantage of this individual’s weaknesses and recruit him, they surely do not know which part of the obtained information is guided and [which part is] deceptive,” the Intelligence Ministry added.
Reacting to the sentence, a UK Foreign Office spokesman said they had raised his case with the Iranian authorities. "Our priority is securing his immediate release and we have reiterated our request for urgent consular access," said the spox, according to the Telegraph.
The United Kingdom has a long history of spying activities in Iran which can be traced back to the 1953 coup against the democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mosaddeq.
Iranian intelligence forces have arrested many foreign-linked spies in the past years who had been involved in acts of sabotage against Iranian people and facilities in the past decades. The latest arrest was made on Tuesday as members of two Mossad-linked spy teams were detained.