Britain expressed concern Monday over charges laid against seven members of the banned Bahai religion in Iran, accusing Tehran of targeting religious minorities.
The charges, which include "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic", were brought last week.
Junior foreign minister Bill Rammell said he was "very concerned" over the charges, which he noted could attract the death penalty.
"The Iranian government appears to be increasingly using vaguely worded charges of this nature to target human rights defenders and religious minorities," Rammell said in a statement.
"It is hard not to conclude that these people are being held solely on account of their religious beliefs or their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association."