A Bahraini court on Monday sentenced 19 Shiites to lengthy jail terms on charges of spying for Iran and plotting to overthrow the regime, judicial sources said, according to a report by the AFP news agency.
Eight people were sentenced to life in prison, nine to 15 years in prison and two to 10 years in jail for espionage and inciting public dissent, said a statement released by the counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office.
15 of those convicted were also stripped of Bahraini citizenship, the statement said.
The court found the group guilty of leaking information to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, as well as of receiving “material support” from the two forces.
They were also convicted of forming a cell to “incite the public against the government and call for regime change by force”, according to AFP.
The sentencing comes nearly two weeks after Bahrain's interior minister accused Iran of harboring 160 Bahrainis convicted of terrorism and stripped of their citizenship.
He accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards of having trained the group, who were convicted of attacks that killed 25 security personnel and wounded 3,000 others.
In March, Bahrain claimed it had broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus and plotting to assassinate senior officials,.
At the time, the kingdom's Interior Ministry said that the 14-member cell was working under direct supervision from two exiled Bahrainis living in Iran.
Several weeks earlier, a 54-member terrorist organization involved in prison breaks and attacks on security forces was uncovered by Bahrain. 25 members of that group were arrested, while the others were at large.
Bahrain regularly accuses Iran of fomenting civil unrest and supporting attacks against security forces in the country. In 2015 Bahrain recalled its ambassador from Iran over these charges, which Iran denies.
In 2013 Bahrain became the first Arab country to blacklist Iranian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Dozens of Bahrainis have been jailed and stripped of citizenship since the 2011 outbreak of protests demanding an elected government in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.