Ex-Iranian official Alireza Akbari executed over spying for UK 'was Ml6 spy': New York Times
Alireza Akbari, a former Iranian official who was executed in January over spying for the British intelligence agency was an MI6 agent, Western intelligence officials have revealed, although the UK government has denied he was a spy.
Akbari, 62, Iran's former deputy defence minister, began giving information, including nuclear secrets, to Britain in 2004 and continued doing so for 15 years, Western sources told the New York Times.
The New York Times report was based on interviews with current and former intelligence officials from the US, UK, Germany and Israel.
Akbari's wife, as well as the British government, have previously dismissed the idea that he was a spy.
The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said before the execution that the issue was a “politically motivated act” by Tehran.
Akbari, who was arrested in 2019, had received 1,805,000 euros, 265,000 pounds, and $50,000 for espionage activities for the United Kingdom.
Over the years, Akbari also disclosed the identity of more than 100 Iranian scientists and officials, the Times report said. They included Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of Iran’s most senior nuclear scientists.
Fakhrizadeh, 62, headed the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research. He was assassinated on November 27, 2020.
Iranian officials said that Israel had acted with Western intelligence and carried out the targeted killing of the prominent nuclear scientist.
Following the assassination, the New York Times revealed that Israel’s spying agency, Mossad, had used a remote-controlled “killer robot” to kill Fakhrizadeh.
Top Iranian officials have often cited the Leader’s decree to stress that Iran is not looking to build a nuclear weapon, but seeks peaceful nuclear technology.
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 British government was also actively involved in the instigation of the recent foreign-backed riots in Iran after the death of a young woman of Kurdish descent.