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US urges Tehran to halt execution of Iranian-British man accused of spying

The United States on Friday joined Britain in calling for Tehran to stand down on “possibly imminent” plans to execute an Iranian-British dual national accused of spying.

The Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online news website announced Wednesday that Alireza Akbari had been sentenced to death for “corruption on Earth and for harming the country’s internal and external security by passing on intelligence” to the United Kingdom.

US diplomat Vedant Patel said Friday that “the charges against Alireza Akbari and his sentencing were politically motivated. His execution would be unconscionable.”

Warning of the prisoner’s “possibly imminent” death, Patel called on Iran to release Akbari “immediately.”

“We are greatly disturbed by the reports that Mr Akbari was drugged, tortured while in custody, interrogated for thousands of hours and forced to make false concessions,” Patel said.

Iranian state media said Thursday that 61-year-old Akbari had once been a high-level intelligence official with the country’s defense and security establishment.

Top British diplomat James Cleverly earlier this week urged Iran to halt Akbari’s execution, which he has also called “politically motivated.”