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Jailed Iranian Baha'i Leaders Moved To Ward With Dangerous Prisoners

Seven Baha'i religious leaders jailed in Iran have been transferred to a section of their prison where dangerous prisoners are kept, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Diane Ala'i, a Baha'i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva, told Radio Farda on February 15 that her community and the relatives of the jailed Baha'is are "extremely worried" about their conditions.

Ala'i said that among those transferred to Gohardasht prison's section 200 -- where dangerous criminals are kept -- are two women: Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet.

Gohardasht prison is in the northern town of Karaj, about 20 kilometers west of Tehran.

In a statement issued on February 15, the Baha'i International Community said that Kamalabadi has been threatened by other inmates since she was moved to section 200.

Ala'i also said the five Baha'i men have been transferred to a crowded section in the prison known for its poor conditions. She said they are permitted to go outside for only a short time each day.

Three of the Baha'i men are in one cell where there are only two beds.

The seven jailed Baha'i leaders -- Kamalabadi, Sabet, Jamaluddin Khanjani, Afif Naeemi, Saeed Rezai, Behrouz Tavakoli, and Vahid Chizfahm -- were sent in August to Gohardasht. They had previously been held in Tehran's Evin prison for 20 months.

Khanjani, the eldest of the Baha'i leaders, is over 70 years of age.

The seven Baha'is were sentenced to 20 years in prison in August, on charges of acting against Iran's national security, collaboration with foreign countries, and "corruption on earth," among other things. Their sentences were later reduced to 10 years each.

Some 300,000 Baha'is live in Iran, making it one of the largest Baha'i communities in the world. But the Iranian government does not officially recognize the religion and restrictions are imposed on its followers, including a ban on attending university.