The government of Iran has held seven leaders of the Baha'i faith a monotheistic religion founded in 19th century Persia in prison for more than a year without formal charges, access to their attorneys or a trial. The Baha'i tradition is outlawed in Iran, and some government officials have claimed that the prisoners are guilty of spying for Israel or insulting Islam. Several times, the government has scheduled capital-punishment hearings for the seven, only to cancel at the last minute. "The charges against these imprisoned Baha'is are baseless and a pretext for the persecution and harassment of a disfavored religious minority," said Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has demanded their release. As of early December, the Baha'i leaders remained in prison with no trial scheduled.
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