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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Accusations against seven Iranian Baha'is are "baseless and ridiculous," Ofer Amar, spokesman for the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
The seven are accused of "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic," according to the Iranian ISNA news agency.
"This is not the first time Baha'is in Iran have been accused of being Zionist spies," Amar said. "The Baha'i World Center is concerned and we are watching the situation."
The Baha'i International Community's Web site posted a statement saying the seven are falsely accused of espionage and that the accusations have been denounced internationally.
The first suspect, Mahvash Sabet, a 55-year-old school principal, was arrested on March 6, and the other six were arrested on May 14. All are part of a national Baha'i organizational body called Friends in Iran, which replaced the National Spiritual Assembly, which was banned following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
According to the Web site, an open letter signed by 243 Iranians from 19 countries and dated February 3 asked for forgiveness from members of the Baha'i faith, "for the wrongs committed against the Baha'i community of Iran" since the founding of the religion.
"We will no longer be silent to the injustices visited upon you," the letter reads.
The Baha'i International Community's Web site issued a statement of thanks and said, "On their behalf and that of the Baha'is throughout the world we convey our profound gratitude and appreciation for a deed of such historical moment."
AP contributed to this report.