Seven members of the Bahai faith have been put on trial in Iran.
The defendants face charges of spying for foreigners, cooperating with Israel and “corruption on Earth”, a charged which carries the death sentence.
The Bahai religion is banned by the Islamic revolutionary leadership of Iran which considers it heretical.
The group have been held since their arrest in 2008. The US government has condemned the trial, expressing concern about Iran’s treatment of Bahais.
“The United States strongly condemns the Iranian government’s decision to commence the espionage trial against seven leaders of the Iranian Bahai community,” said US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley.
“We are deeply concerned about Iran’s ongoing persecution of Bahais and treatment of other members of religious minorities who continue to be targeted solely on the basis of their beliefs,” Mr Crowley added.
The group are being tried in a revolutionary court in Tehran.
“All the activities of the outlawed Bahai’s sect in Iran is being led by its global centre based in Israel,” a statement from the trial, cited by state news agency ISNA said.
“Based on the evidence and the defendants’ confessions, they held meetings with ambassadors of different Western countries and discussed information and actions with them,” it added.