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Old 05-16-2016, 10:22 PM
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Unhappy US urges Iran to release imprisoned Baha段 leaders

US urges Iran to release imprisoned Baha段 leaders

Seven prisoners serving 20 years on charges of espionage, insulting religious sanctities, propaganda against Islamic Republic
By AFP May 15, 2016, 3:21 am

The seven Baha'i leaders arrested by Iranian authorities on May 14, 2008: seated from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Saeid Rezaie, and standing, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet. (Courtesy Baha'i World News Service)

WASHINGTON The United States called on Iran Saturday to free seven leaders of the minority Baha段 faith serving 20-year prison sentences, urging Tehran to ensure religious and other freedoms.

The Baha段 leaders were arrested eight years ago and convicted of espionage, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. They are identified by activists and the Baha段 World News Service as Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi and Mahvash Sabet.

展e join the international community in condemning their continued imprisonment and calling upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to release them immediately, along with all other prisoners of conscience in Iran, State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

擢urthermore, we call upon Iranian authorities to uphold their own laws and meet their international obligations that guarantee freedom of expression, religion, opinion and assembly for all citizens, he said.

Iran allows religious freedom for several minorities but targets the Baha段 faith, which believes in unity among religions and equality between men and women.

The Baha段 faith considers Bahaullah, an Iranian born in 1817, to be the latest prophet sent by God, a major divergence from Islamic orthodoxy.
Kirby痴 statement comes after international sanctions on Iran were lifted as part of its nuclear deal with world powers last year.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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