Prince Harry’s remarks on killing Taliban fighters mean the UK “is in no position to preach” over the execution of a British-Iranian, Tehran has said.
Iran’s foreign ministry announced at the weekend that Alireza Akbari – formerly a high-ranking official in Tehran’s defence ministry – was hanged.
His death provoked widespread international backlash, with Rishi Sunak branding the killing “cowardly”.
“The British regime, whose royal family member, sees the killing of 25 innocent people as removal of chess pieces and has no regrets over the issue, and those who turn a blind eye to this war crime, are in no position to preach others on human rights,” the foreign ministry tweeted on Tuesday.
The duke‘s remarks revealing the number of lives he took as an Apache helicopter pilot were criticised by fellow veterans as “ill-judged” when reports of them first surfaced ahead of the ghostwritten book’s publication last week.
But the estranged royal later hit out at what he claimed was a “very dangerous” media spin that he “somehow boasted about” what he described in the book as “the taking of human lives” over six missions.
In his memoir Spare, he wrote that it was “not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me”, and recalled having viewed enemy combatants in the heat of battle as “chess pieces” that had been taken off the board.
Following the execution of 62-year-old Mr Akbari, Tehran’s foreign ministry said: “Britain’s encroachment on the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been met with a decisive response from the Iranian intelligence and judiciary”.
Tehran also insisted “the British regime’s uproar and the support of some European self-proclaimed defenders of human rights” was “only a sign of their evasion and violation of law”.
Britain sanctioned Iran’s prosecutor-general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri on Saturday in response to Mr Akbari’s execution.
Foreign secretary James Cleverly said the government was “holding the regime to account for its appalling human rights violation”, which prime minister Rishi Sunak condemned as a “callous and cowardly” killing by a “barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people”.
On Monday, Mr Akbari’s Labour MP Andy Slaughter said he had been told by his family the regime had refused to release, and has threatened to destroy, his body.
Last week, United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk warned that criminal proceedings and the death penalty had been “weaponised” to stamp out dissent in Iran and “punish people for exercising their basic rights” – in what he alleged amounts to “state-sanctioned killing”.
At least four people have been executed since the protests began, according to the judiciary, and state media reported last week that three more anti-government protesters had been sentenced to death on charges of “waging war on God”.