RNA - The former deputy foreign minister for Arab countries' affairs made the remarks in a Twitter post on Monday, writing that Sheikh Ali Salman’s life sentence indicates the continuation of the reign of terror and crackdown in Bahrain.
“Today, a great number of Shias and Sunnis are imprisoned in a large prison called Bahrain,” said the Iranian official. “The solution is ‘dialogue’ not ‘life sentence’.”
His remarks came after a Bahraini appeal court overturned the acquittal of the 52-year-old secretary general of the banned al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and two of his aides and leveled new accusations against them
In a related front, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi issued a statement late on Sunday voicing Iran's strong disapproval of Bahraini monarchy treatment of Shia majority in the tiny Arab island.
“This verdict will leave no room for any doubt in the public opinion and the international community that the Bahraini government does not intend to improve the situation, but it seeks to intensify its crackdown and worsen the conditions,” Bahram Qassemi underscored.
The court accused them of collaborating with Qatar and giving out information to foreigners in order to topple the regime in Manama.
Qassemi added that the Bahraini authorities, instead of relying on other governments and looking for security outside Bahrain, need to solve their self-made crisis through holding real and serious talks with the opposition groups and answering the legitimate demands of Bahraini people.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman further urged Al-Khalifa regime to end its inhumane behavior and restrictions on people of Bahrain.
Salman is currently serving a four-year sentence in a separate case - "inciting hatred" in the kingdom, which has seen mainly Shia protests against the Sunni monarchy since 2011.
In November, Salman and two other members of al-Wefaq were charged with working for Qatari intelligence with the aim of overthrowing the Bahraini government.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have declared Salman and other jailed opposition leaders prisoners of conscience.
Sima Watling, Amnesty International's campaigner on Bahrain, told Al-Jazeera from Beirut that the verdict was "absurd".
She said that Salman had phone conversations with the foreign minister of Qatar in 2011, urging Doha to mediate in Bahrain's political crisis, and the interaction was used six years later as a proof for spying charges.
"The new charges are absurd," Watling stated, noting that "it appears to be linked to the Qatar crisis and the Bahraini authorities are going forward with their crush on dissent. Any opposition or opposing voice is being crushed".
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, severed all ties with Qatar in 2017, banning their citizens from travel to or communication with the fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member.
Sunday's verdict comes days ahead of Bahrain's November 24 parliamentary elections. Members of dissolved opposition parties, including al-Wefaq and the secular al-Waad group, are banned from running.
The Sunni-ruled Gulf state has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011 when security forces crushed Shia-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.
Opposition movements have been outlawed and hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned - with many stripped of their nationality.
According to Fars News Agency, Bahrain last year ratified a constitutional amendment granting military courts the authority to try civilians charged with "terrorism", a term that is loosely defined by the Bahraini penal code.
In June, the kingdom amended its law on political rights, prohibiting "leaders and members of political associations dissolved for violating the kingdom's constitution or its laws" from running in legislative elections.
Bahrain, a key ally of the United States and home to the US Fifth Fleet, accuses Shia Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom. Iran denies the allegations.
The United Nations and rights groups including Amnesty and HRW have criticized the Bahraini monarchy over its treatment of protesters.