After prolonged detention and a show trial, the seven unofficial leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran were sentenced to 20 years in prison each, according to reports by human rights activists in Iran.

After being held for almost two years in the notorious Evin Prison without any charges brought against them or permission to meet their lawyers, the trial of the Yaran began in January 2010 and was concluded in June 2010. The trial was held in the 28th branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran and was essentially a show trial. Outside observers were not allowed into the courtroom despite it officially being a trial open to the public, but film crews of the regime were dispatched to tape the trial. The Baha’i seven, aware of the role the regime planned for them, refused to participate in some of the hearings.

The fictitious charges brought against the Baha’i leaders are espionage, initiation and expansion of illegal organizations, collecting and transmitting classified information to foreigners in the aim of disrupting national security, holding illegal meetings to plot the actions against the security of the state and spreading corruption on earth. These activities were coordinated with the “usurper regime that is occupying al-Qods” (Israel) and guided by the leadership of the Baha’is, the Universal House of Justice, which is located in Israel.

The seven Baha’is are the members of “Friends of Iran” (Yaran Iran), a national-level coordinating group for the Baha’i community in Iran. Six of the group, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm, have been arrested in their home in Tehran on May 14, 2008. Mahvash Sabet was arrested on March 5, 2008 during a visit to Mashad. All official Baha’i governing bodies were disbanded in Iran in 1983.

Update: Initial reaction of the Baha’i international community:

“If this news proves to be accurate, it represents a deeply shocking outcome to the case of these innocent and harmless people,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“We understand that they have been informed of this sentence and that their lawyers are in the process of launching an appeal,” said Ms. Dugal.