A former Iranian defense ministry official who faces execution on espionage charges says his confessions were made under torture, an audio file has revealed.
Alireza Akbari, who holds dual Iranian-British citizenship and is sentenced to death on charges of spying for the UK, says in the audio file his forced confessions are a result of 3,500 hours of torture.
According to the audio file obtained by Iran International, Akbari says he only confessed because the authorities had promised to release him.
"After more than 3,500 hours of torture, psychedelic drugs, and physiological and psychological pressure, they took away my will. They drove me to the brink of madness. They instilled in me what they wanted and forced me to make false confessions at gunpoint and threats of death," he said.
The regime’s state media reported January 11 that Akbari will be executed for allegedly spying for MI6. In a statement published by Iran's Intelligence Ministry, Akbari was described as "one of the most important infiltrators of the country's sensitive and strategic centers". There are unconfirmed reports that Akbari, who was kept in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran since 2019, has already been executed. Iran’s state media denied the rumors on Friday.
The agents promised him freedom in exchange for forced confessions and said that if he resists, they will send him to the dungeons of Evin, where he would be whipped, Akbari claimed.
He added that the intelligence ministry imposed its desired verdict on the judge, noting that "The prosecutor's office ordered my release with the minimum amount of bail, but the Intelligence Ministry prevented it. The Supreme Court overturned the (execution) sentence, but the Intelligence Ministry threatened the judge and reinstated the verdict."
"I was under temporary detention for more than three years with an illegal sentence, and the judge in the case who intended to annul the sentence suddenly died," he said.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council
He alleged in this audio file that there is no evidence against him while the Ministry of Intelligence claims he took information from Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and passed it on to Britain. "The Ministry of Intelligence claims that I met Shamkhani in 2018 or 2019 and I gave him a bottle of perfume and a shirt and Mr. Shamkhani gave me secret information about the country, and I passed it to foreigners.”
Akbari says that he told the judge if this allegation is true, why doesn't he summon Shamkhani and former president Hassan Rouhani, to which he replied, "I don't have the power to summon them, but I will destroy you."
Akbari had been deputy defense minister under the reformist President Mohammad Khatami, from 1997 to 2005. He was an advocate of the Iran nuclear deal known as the JCPOA that was eventually signed in 2015 with world powers.
He was also close to Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, who is now rumored to be replaced because his former aide received the death penalty as a “British spy”. A source close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has provided documents to Iran International showing that the death sentence for Akbari is aimed at weakening Shamkhani’s position in the clerical regime. It seems that President Ebrahim Raisi, Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib and Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi are exerting pressure to remove Shamkhani from the post.
UK foreign secretary James Cleverly Thursday called on Tehran not to execute Akbari. In a tweet, James Cleverly said the Islamic Republic “must halt the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari and immediately release him.” He further called the move a “politically motivated act by a barbaric regime that has total disregard for human life.”
On Friday, he again tweeted about Akbari, saying that “The Iranian regime should be in no doubt. We are watching the case of Alireza Akbari closely. Iran must not follow through with their brutal threat of execution.”
"Our priority is securing his immediate release and we have reiterated our request for urgent consular access," a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said.