Iran Hangs Former Deputy Defense Minister

On Saturday, Iran announced the execution of an Iranian-British national and former high-ranking defense ministry official on espionage and corruption charges.

Iran Hangs Former Deputy Defense Minister
Image credit: KhabarOnline News Agency /AP [via NPR News]

Facts

  • On Saturday, Iran announced the execution of an Iranian-British national and former high-ranking defense ministry official on espionage and corruption charges.
  • Alireza Akbari was reportedly hanged after being convicted of "corruption on earth" over allegations of passing on Iran's intelligence to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service — popularly known as MI6.
  • Local media claimed Akbari — reportedly arrested in 2019 — received more than $2M in exchange for his services, which included sharing sensitive information about 178 Iranian figures with British officials. Akbari, however, denied the charges against him.
  • Iran's state media also claimed Akbari was involved in the 2020 assassination of top military scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside Tehran. Though he didn't confess to his involvement, Akbari reportedly admitted that a British official had requested information on the scientist.
  • Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the BBC aired an audio message in which Akbari reportedly described how Iran used "physiological and psychological methods" to make him "confess to false and corrupt claims." Tehran has yet to comment on this allegation.
  • Akbari served as deputy to Iranian defense minister Ali Shamkhani — current secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council — from 1997 to 2005. An adviser to the Iranian Navy, he reportedly played a significant role in implementing the UN-proposed ceasefire that ended the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.

Sources: CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters, New York Post, and Rferl.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by The Guardian. Akbari's execution, which comes amid Tehran's brutal theocratic crackdown on the nation's mass protests, is an inhumane and politically motivated move that will further polarize the nation. As Iran's ruthlessness continues to escalate, the West must join the UK — which has retaliated against this latest development with sanctions — in solidarity and hold the regime accountable.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Tehran Times. While the death penalty shouldn't be implemented lightly, the reality is that Akbari turned his back on his duties and illegally deceived Iran, putting the nation at significant risk. This case was decided according to Tehran's legislation and signals no individual is above the country's law, no matter how powerful they are.

Predictions