The judge presiding over the trial of seven Baha’i leaders in Iran has extended their detention by two months, it was reported late last week.
No verdict has been yet been handed down from the final session of the trial of the seven, which took place on 14 June 2010.
The seven were taken to the judge's office on 28 July. The judge informed them in the presence of a member of their legal team that their detention had been extended for another two months as of 22 July.
Lawyers for the Baha'i leaders have submitted a written objection to the ongoing detention, making it absolutely clear that there is no legal basis whatsoever on which to refuse their request that the defendants be released on bail.
Baha’is in the UK, amongst whom are relatives of the imprisoned Baha’is in Iran, are increasingly concerned for the safety of their fellow Baha'is in Iran.
"The seven are now entering the third year of their supposedly temporary detention," said Dr Kishan Manocha, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, the UK Baha'i community's national governing body.
"This continuing detention of seven innocent Baha'is, in grossly inhumane conditions, constitutes an appalling violation of their human rights," said Dr Manocha.
He continued: "The government of Iran must recognise that its treatment of the Baha'is will remain under close international scrutiny. We call upon the Iranian authorities to accept that they are responsible for this deplorable injustice and to release the seven without delay."
In a statement issued following a meeting with representatives of the UK Baha'i community back in June, the UK Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt, expressed the government's concern about the fate of the seven Baha'i leaders.
"I call on the Iranian Government to ensure, without delay, that the rights of these individuals are fully protected; that they are given due legal process, including being released on bail and given a fair and transparent trial, in accordance with international standards," said Mr Burt.
The seven defendants are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.
Before their imprisonment, they attended to the spiritual and social needs of Iran’s Baha’i community, which numbers more than 300,000. Ms Sabet was arrested on 5 March 2008 and the others on 14 May 2008.
The seven have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since they were arrested. Their trial consisted of six brief court appearances which began on 12 January after they had been imprisoned without charge for 20 months, during which time they were allowed barely one hour's access to their legal counsel.
There are currently 47 Baha’is in detention in various cities in Iran because of their religious affiliation.