MI6 Accused of Paying 2.4 Million Dollar to Iranian Official Executed for Spying
A recent report by the New York Times reveals that Alireza Akbari, a former top Iranian defence official who was executed in January 2021, was a British spy. According to intelligence officials cited by the report, Akbari provided the British with strategic information, including nuclear secrets, for over 15 years. Although Iran accused Akbari of working for MI6, the UK government has never admitted his involvement in espionage.
The report claims that a British intelligence official visited Israel in 2008 and informed them of a mole with access to Iran's nuclear secrets. The official even provided information suggesting that Iran
was clandestinely building nuclear weapons. A year later, then-US President Barack Obama made the information public, causing shockwaves around the world.
According to a report based on interviews with current and former intelligence officials from several countries, including the US, UK, Israel, Germany, and Iran, Akbari allegedly provided information on more than 100 Iranian officials over the years. Among those named was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who was assassinated by Israel in 2020 and was known as the "father of the Iranian bomb." The report did not name the intelligence official who provided this information.
Akbari, a former soldier in
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the Iran-Iraq war, was reportedly detained by Iranian authorities between March 2019 and March 2020. State media released eight brief videos following his arrest, in which Akbari confessed to spying and his recruitment by the UK at a function held in the British embassy in Tehran. Among other things, he alleged that MI6 recruited him in 2004 and promised him and his family visas to the UK.
After his alleged recruitment by MI6, Akbari visited the UK a year later and met his handler, who reportedly paid him $2.4 million (based on current exchange rates) to establish front companies in
Austria, Spain, and the UK. These companies were intended to provide cover for Akbari's meetings with his handlers. Besides serving as Iran's former deputy defense minister, Akbari had held advisory roles with the navy commander and also led a division at the defense ministry's research center.
The revelation of Akbari's spying activities has raised questions about MI6's involvement in his execution. The British government called Akbari's hanging a "barbaric act" and promised that it would not go unpunished. The report adds yet another layer to the complex and fraught relationship between Iran and the West, particularly regarding Iran's nuclear program.