Seven detained Bahai believers have confessed to setting up an illegal organization in Iran
that took orders from Israel
and others to undermine the Islamic system, an Iranian newspaper reported on Sunday.
The report in Resalat daily comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel over Tehran's disputed nuclear plans. Israel accuses Iran of seeking atomic bombs and has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails. Iran denies the charge.
The Resalat report appeared to refer to a group of Bahais, most of whom were detained in May, but it did not spell this out. Judiciary officials had no immediate comment.
Bahais regard their faith's 19th-century founder as the latest in a line of prophets including Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammad. Iran's Shiite religious establishment considers the faith a heretical offshoot of Islam.
"Seven Bahai individuals have set up an illegal organization with connections to a number of countries including Israel and they have received orders from them to undertake measures against the Islamic system," Resalat reported.
Resalat quoted an official in charge of security affairs of Tehran's revolutionary court, named only as Mr. Haddad, as saying that the seven latest arrests had confessed. Revolutionary courts handle matters of national security.
"This fact led to the arrest of seven individuals. They have all confessed to the formation of an illegal organization, including (having ties) with Israel," Resalat added.
Iran said in May it had detained six members of the Bahai faith on security-related charges.
The Bahai International Community had said they were members of a committee that tends to the needs of Bahais in Iran. It said the group of six was detained in May and a seventh member was detained in March.
The Bahai International Community represents the faith worldwide, operating under a governing council which is based in Israel, according to its website www.bahai.org.
Bahais say hundreds of their faith have been jailed and executed since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. The government denies it has detained or executed people for their religion.
The Bahai faith originated in Iran 150 years ago and Bahais say the faith has 5 million adherents worldwide, including an estimated 300,000 or more in Iran.