After a Bahraini court convicted 12 people of being trained by and spying for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Iran denied any involvement in the violent protests in that country.

Iran maintained that Manama is diverting attention from the human rights violations carried out by its own authorities.

A report on Reuters indicates that the 12 men have been sentenced to life in prison for their links to the IRGC. IRNA quotes an informed source from the Iranian foreign ministry saying: “Instead of throwing accusations, Bahrain needs to address the civil demands of its people and avoid sectarianism.”

In 2011, Bahrain was the scene of widespread protests that were violently crushed by the minority Sunni government with the support of Saudi Arabia. The Shia community in Bahrain, which comprises about 70 percent of its population, has demanded political reform and an end to discrimination.