Iran said Saturday it executed a former high-ranking defence ministry official and dual Iranian-British national, despite international warnings not to carry out the death sentence.
The execution further escalated tensions with the West amid the nationwide anti-government protests shaking the Islamic Republic.
The hanging of Ali Reza Akbari, a close ally of top security official Ali Shamkhani, suggests an ongoing power struggle within Iran's theocracy as it tries to contain the demonstrations over the September death of Mahsa Amini. It also harkened back to the mass purges of the military that immediately followed Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Akbari's hanging drew immediate anger from London, which along with the US and others has sanctioned Iran over the protests and its supplying Russia with the bomb-carrying drones now targeting Ukraine.
“This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly summoned Iran's chargé d’affaires in the United Kingdom and separately warned: “This will not stand unchallenged."
Iran similarly summoned the British ambassador after the execution.
Iran’s Mizan news agency, associated with the country’s judiciary, announced Akbari’s hanging without saying when it happened. However, there were rumours he had been executed days earlier.
However, Iran long has accused those who travel abroad or have Western ties of spying, often using them as bargaining chips in negotiations.
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