On May 14, 2008, Iranian intelligence officials arrested six Baha’i leaders and took them to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. The seventh member of the committee was arrested on March 5, 2008, in Mashhad after being summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence office there.
Arrested on May 14 were: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. All live in Tehran. Mrs. Kamalabadi, Mr. Khanjani, and Mr. Tavakkoli have been previously arrested and then released after periods ranging from five days to four months. The seventh member of the committee, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, also lives in Tehran, although she was originally detained in Mashhad.
- For the latest information, read the Bahá’í International Community’s online IRAN UPDATE.
The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) announced on February 11, 2009, that charges had been laid against the seven imprisoned members of the national-level committee that coordinates the activities for the Iranian Baha’i community. The report quoted deputy Tehran prosecutor Hassan Haddad.
A spokesman for Iran’s Judiciary, Ali-Reza Jamshidi, announced on 17 February, 2009, that the seven Baha’i leaders would have court hearings within a week on charges of espionage, but no specific hearing date was given at the time. They have been charged with spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. These charges are unfounded and no evidence against them has been brought to light. The Baha’i leaders have been held for over a year in Evin prison and denied access to their attorney, the Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi.
- Read a letter written by the Baha’i International Community on behalf of the seven leaders, addressed to Iran’s chief prosecutor.
In April 2009, family members of the prisoners learned that a fourth accusation had been leveled against them, that of “spreading corruption on earth,” a crime that carries the threat of death under the penal code of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In June 2009, family members of the seven Baha’i leaders received word that their trial date had been set for July 11, 2009. But no trial was held on that day. Iranian officials later announced the trial would be held on August 18, 2009, but it too was postponed until October 18, 2009. When attorneys and families arrived at the court offices in Tehran on October 18, they were again told the trial would not take place.
The trial of the seven Baha’i leaders finally commenced on January 12, 2010. The charges against the seven were reported by Iranian news media as: espionage, “propaganda activities against the Islamic order,” the establishment of an illegal administration, cooperation with Israel, the sending of secret documents outside the country, acting against the security of the country, and “corruption on earth.” There were no observers allowed into the courtroom, and even the lawyers for the accused had to argue their way inside the court. The second session of their trial, held on February 7, 2010, was closed and mostly procedural. A third session of the trial, held on April 12, 2010, was suspended.
May 14, 2010 marked the two-year anniversary of the group’s incarceration. Further sessions of their trial were held June 12-14, 2010. Although the trial appeared to have concluded at that time, no outcome was known until August 8, when the Baha’i International Community announced that each defendant had reportedly received a sentence of 20 years in prison.
Additional resources, including government statements, NGO reports and a variety of media coverage, can be accessed via the links below.
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