LONDON — British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has condemned the “cowardly and shameful” execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari as he warned Tehran: “The world is watching you and you will be held accountable”.
Iran announced on Saturday that it had executed Akbari, a former Iranian defense minister arrested in 2019 and convicted of spying for the UK, a charge it denied.
His murder sparked outrage in countries including Germany, France and the United States.
In his first statement to the House of Commons since the execution, Cleverly said of Akbari: “Let there be no doubt, he was the victim of the political vendettas of a vicious regime.
“His execution was the cowardly and shameful act of a leadership that does not hesitate to use the death penalty as a political tool to silence dissent and settle internal scores.”
Following the execution, the UK imposed sanctions on Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri. The British ambassador in Tehran has been temporarily recalled.
Cleverly told UK lawmakers that Montezari “bears a heavy responsibility for the use of [the] death penalty for political purposes.
Meanwhile, Britain’s opposition Labor Party has urged the government to officially declare the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group, with Shadow Foreign Minister Bambos Charalambous warning: “The handbook of this regime is to use brutality and violence for its own political ends and its own survival.”
Earlier, Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP and chairman of the defense select committee, told Times Radio that the UK had become “too skittish” when it came to standing up to the Iranian regime.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said over the weekend that the United States “stands firmly with the United Kingdom in strongly condemning Iran’s execution” of the British-Iranian and “will continue to stand ‘Iran responsible for its sham trials and politicized executions’.