Iran using Prince Harry's revelation in memoir to justify 'callous' execution

  • 18/01/2023

Iran is using Prince Harry's revelation that he killed 25 Taliban fighters in an attempt to justify the execution of a British-Iranian man.

The execution of Alireza Akbari has been widely condemned as a human rights violation, but on Tuesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry defended itself by pointing to the actions of Prince Harry.

"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," it said in a tweet.

In his recently-released memoir Spare, Prince Harry said that during his two tours of Afghanistan, he killed a number of people.

"It wasn't a statistic that filled me with pride but nor did it leave me ashamed," he wrote. "When I found myself plunged in the heat and confusion of combat I didn't think of those 25 as people.

"They were chess pieces removed from the board, Bad people eliminated before they could kill Good people."

The comment was later criticised by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime as well as a former commander of British forces.

"These comments feed into propaganda and help the jihadists to recruit and radicalise people to carry out attacks against British civilians and soldiers," said Colonel Richard Kemp.

But Prince Harry has denied he ever boasted about it.  

"If I heard anyone boasting about that kind of thing, I would be angry. But it's a lie. Hopefully, now that the book is out, people will be able to see the context."

Akbari's execution in Iran was announced last week. He had been accused of spying for Britain.

It sparked widespread criticism, with the UK government saying the allegations were untrue and "politically motivated". 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the execution was a "callous and cowardly act" by a "barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people".

A spokesperson for Sunak on Tuesday wouldn't comment on Iran bringing Prince Harry into the debate. 

"We will not be drawn into conflating what are two separate issues. I don't comment on the Royal family more broadly," the Daily Telegraph reported.

"No one should be in any doubt that the execution of Alireza Akbari was a barbaric and politically motivated act with no legitimacy, and comparisons between that and servicemen and women carrying out legitimate actions would be entirely false."