Iran has sentenced a former defense ministry official to death after accusing him of spying for MI6, the BBC’s Persian service reported on Tuesday, APA reports.
Alireza Akbari, who served as a deputy defense minister during the tenure of former president Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), was arrested sometime between 2019 and 2020 and charged with espionage for the British intelligence agency, BBC Persian reported.
His wife Maryam Akbari expressed concern to the news outlet that his execution may be imminent, as he was transferred to solitary confinement on Tuesday evening, a typical prelude to execution for death row prisoners in Iran.
The story was first reported on Monday by Abas Aslani, a journalist with close ties to authorities in Iran, who tweeted that a senior former official had been arrested and tried on espionage charges without revealing the individual’s identity.
The reason for the story coming out now, despite the arrest taking place almost three years ago, is speculated to be the authorities’ desire to conclude the case, possibly by executing Akbari.
Akbari is said to have been a close associate of Ali Shamkhani, who was the defense minister in the Khatami administration and currently holds a position as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, a top decision-making body.
Some observers have suggested that the charges against Akbari may be politically motivated by rivals of Shamkhani within the regime.
There has been no official comment from Iranian authorities on the matter.