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                       Saeed Abedini

                            Who is Saeed Abedini? 

Saeed Abedini was born in Iran, but is now a US citizen. His wife Naghmeh is also a US citizen and
they live with their two children in the US state of Idaho.

Saeed, despite being just 32 years old, has been instrumental in bringing many Iranian Muslims to the Lord, and has established numerous house churches throughout Iran.

Before he met the Lord, Saeed was so depressed he wanted to commit suicide, and for a time he was trained by Hezbollah to be a suicide bomber. After he experienced salvation through the Blood of Jesus Christ, Saeed's whole life was so dramatically transformed that he could not help but spread the Good News to as many people as possible.

In September last year Saeed was travelling on a bus near the Iranian border when Revolutionary Guards boarded the bus and dragged him off. He has been held for months while he waited for his case to come before the courts of Iran. He is currently captive in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. He has been mercilessly tortured, but has not denied His Lord and Savior.

Despite being an American citizen, the US State Department has done nothing to help as they have no relationship with Iran. From the human level, there is little hope for Saeed. Indications have been given that he may be sentenced to 18 years in prison, or possibly even given the death penalty.

14 Augusts 2013 - Pastor Saeed fainting from pain (CP)

(ChristianPost) 14 August 2013 - American Pastor Saeed Abedini's health has taken a turn for the worse and he is fainting from severe amounts of pain, according to his family in Iran who were able to visit him in Evin Prison, where he is serving an eight year sentence.

"Unfortunately, we have learned that Pastor Saeed's internal injuries are causing him increased pain," the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S., revealed in a post on Monday.

 

"Pastor Saeed has been suffering from internal bleeding – the results of intense beatings he has sustained in prison for his faith."

Earlier this summer, Abedini's health was thought to be improving, with his family noting that he was in "good spirits" following his release from solitary confinement, and that some of his medical symptoms had waned.

 

Arrested in 2012 and later sentenced to eight years in prison supposedly for endangering national security, the Christian pastor has been beaten in jail and has been pressured to renounce his faith in Christ, though he has refused to do so. An international campaign backed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide has called for his release, though so far Iranian authorities have refused to grant such a request.

 

Officials have also denied Abedini important medical care for the severe pain he has been feeling in his abdomen, causing the ACLJ to accuse the Islamic republic of "inhuman treatment of prisoners of conscience."

 

The pastor was finally allowed treatment at a local hospital where he was prescribed medication, but it has not been enough, and his pain has increased, the Christian law group said, revealing that on one occasion he had even fainted from "immense anguish."

"This is a disturbing turn of events. It serves as a renewed reminder of the dangerous conditions Pastor Saeed faces in one of the world's worst prisons," the ACLJ continued, and urged official to provide Abedini the important medical care that he need.

The law group pointed out that the pastor is being kept in prison because of his Christian faith, and noted that his is one of many persecution stories currently taking place in the Islamic Republic.

 

In a recent interview, Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife, spoke out about the torture and beatings her husband has been subjected to while in prison, and announced an upcoming prayer vigil in September to mark the anniversary of his imprisonment.

"He has been dealing with a lot of pain and internal bleeding since he was taken to solitary confinement which has been horrific in itself…two times, attempts to break him and have him recant his faith. He's gone through a lot the last year," Naghmeh Abedini said.


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(CP)  http://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-saeed-abedini-fainting-from-pain-in-disturbing-turn-of-events-102161/cpf

300 DAYS (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 25 July 2013 - 23 July 2013 marked the 300th day of American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s illegal imprisonment in Iran – 300 days away from his wife and kids, 300 days of torment for his Christian faith, 300 days and counting.

Nearly a year ago, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard raided the home of Pastor Saeed’s parents in Tehran and imprisoned him solely on the basis of his faith. On account of that same faith, he faced a bogus trial and was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term in Iran’s brutal Evin Prison. He has been subjected to  beatings and harassment  which have caused internal injuries necessitating medical treatment.

Suffering from an internal injury in his stomach, Pastor Saeed has been in need of medical attention for quite some time. On July 20, 2013, he was taken to a private hospital in Tehran for treatment and, for the first time, he was examined by a physician and prescribed  medication for  injuries he sustained from the beatings he endured by prison guards.

On two past occasions, the 33-year-old Pastor Saeed has been taken to the local hospital only to be sent home without examination of or treatment for his injuries. This time, authorities proved that they have heard the international outcry for medical attention.

Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, responded to this positive step:

Thank you to all of the individuals who have prayed, written letters, signed petitions, called government officials, run benefit races, tweeted, and shared Saeed’s story. Thank you to all the government officials from around the world who have stood for my husband.  Iran has listened to your pleas.  While I am encouraged that Saeed is finally getting medical care, the fight is not yet over.  It has been a difficult 300 days – 300 days of torment simply because Saeed loves Jesus Christ.  I am hopeful Iran will do the just and honorable thing and release Saeed.

We are pleased that Iranian authorities have taken this important step to see that Pastor Saeed is no longer denied access to necessary medical treatment. It is our hope that the Iranian regime will take additional steps to correct their wrongdoings by giving his case a fair and impartial review in the court of appeals, where his case is currently pending.  A fair and impartial review must result in a decision that continuing to hold Pastor Saeed is agrave violation of Iran’s Constitution and its international obligations.

While Pastor Saeed has received medical treatment, he continues to pay a price for his Christian faith daily through his illegal imprisonment. We hope that this recent update out of Tehran indicates that Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – will  receive just treatment in the coming days and weeks. Most importantly, we hope to see Iranian officials release him so he can return to the  United States where he can make a full recovery in his family’s care.

We continue to work in this country and in the international community to secure Pastor Saeed’s freedom.  And more than 600,000 people around the world now stand in solidarity with Pastor Saeed at SaveSaeed.org.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/american-pastor-saeed-300-illegal-days-iranian-prison

Wife of Pastor Saeed to take plea to UN (FOX)

(FOX) 06 June 2013 - The wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran for his Christian beliefs delivered an impassioned plea to foreign diplomats gathered in Geneva, begging them to press the Islamic republic to free her husband.

Naghmeh Abedini, whose husband Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, told members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to join her “in crying out against his persecution.”

“My husband, a U.S. citizen and loving father of our two young children, has been held in Iran's brutal Evin Prison because of his faith -- without a voice to fight for his freedom,” she said in testimony Tuesday morning. “I must, therefore, be his voice.”

Abedini’s backers have for months pressed his case, but hearing it from the 33-year-old Idaho resident's wife and mother of his two children had far greater impact, according to Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents the Abedinis.

 

  

 

 

“The opportunity for her to share her husband’s story before the United Nations is very significant,” Sekulow told FoxNews.com from Geneva, where he testified on Friday. “They looked her directly in the eyes, heard her pleas and saw her pain. The empathy and compassion of the world could be felt as she delivered her remarks.”

 

Representatives of member nations as well as non-governmental organizations were on hand.

Abedini has suffered long stints in solitary confinement, and, according to his family and attorneys in Iran, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates inside the brutal gulag. For months, he reportedly has been suffering from serious injuries, including internal bleeding from beatings, with no proper medical attention. Experts consider the conditions so extreme that Abedini’s eight-year term is seen as a veritable death sentence.

“Saeed is not guilty of violating any Iranian law; instead, he is being held as a prisoner of conscience because he had exercised his fundamental human rights and converted from Islam to Christianity,” Naghmeh Abedini said. “Please join me in calling for Saeed’s release, not just for my family, but also to spur action to protect human dignity, freedom of expression, and religious tolerance across the globe.”

 

Abedini left his wife and two young children in Boise, to travel to his homeland last year to visit family and help build a state-run, secular orphanage on family-owned land.  Although he had made many such visits in recent years, this time he was pulled off of a bus in September and taken to prison.

 

More than a decade ago, Abedini began working as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts who are forbidden from praying in public churches. He was arrested in 2009, but released after pledging to stop formally organizing house churches in Iran.

After spending months imprisoned without any notice of charges, Abedini was sentenced Jan. 27.


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(FOX)  http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/06/04/wife-christian-pastor-imprisoned-in-iran-takes-plea-to-un/

13 May 2013 - released from solitary confinement (CP)

(CPO) 13 May 2013 - After spending his 33rd birthday inside the "small dark hole" of solitary confinement, U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been returned to the general prison population of Evin Prison in Iran.

"His release from solitary is a direct result of the multitudes praying. I am relieved my husband is out of solitary, but still am deeply concerned about Saeed's health. While this is a small victory, I am still demanding justice be done and that Saeed be released," Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said in a statement posted by The American Center for Law and Justice.

The pastor, who has been in jail in Tehran since September 2012 and was sentenced to eight years in prison in January, supposedly for endangering national security, had been in solitary confinement for more than a week.

 

The ACLJ, which represents his wife and two children back in the U.S., has warned that Abedini is in need of medical attention for a number of health issues, but so far prison officials have refused to provide him with that care.

"This is a critical development and does raise hope after a very discouraging week. It was believed that Pastor Saeed may have faced 20 days or more in solitary confinement. Pastor Saeed described the first time he spent in solitary confinement, some 200 days ago when he was first imprisoned for his Christian faith, as some of the worst days he has ever faced," the ACLJ wrote in an update on the pastor.

 

The law group noted that it is unclear how many of the other 10 prisoners that were placed in solitary confinement have been returned to the general prison population. The men were punished alongside the pastor apparently for writing a letter complaining about the lack of medical treatment they received while in Evin.

 

"We are hopeful that Pastor Saeed's early return to the general population of Ward 350 is a sign that international pressure on Iran is beginning to have an effect," the ACLJ added.

The fight to have the U.S. pastor released from prison continues. The U.S. Department of State, the European Union and the United Nations have all called for his release, while over 575,000 people around the world have now signed a petition supporting Abedini.

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(CP)  http://global.christianpost.com/news/pastor-saeed-abedini-released-from-solitary-confinement-wife-praises-small-victory-95688/cpf


30 April 2013 - Pastor Saeed put in solitary confinement (FOX)

(FOX) 30 April 2013 - The American pastor jailed in Iran for his faith has been placed in solitary confinement and may now be suffering organ failure, according to family members in Iran who are increasingly alarmed at his deteriorating health.

Saeed Abedini, the 32-year-old Christian and American citizen who is serving an eight-year prison term in Iran, was put in solitary confinement following a “peaceful, silent protest” in an outside courtyard at Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin prison, according to family members. Conditions at the prison prompted Abedini and other prisoners to sign a petition decrying the lack of medical care and the threats and harsh treatment facing family members who come to visit.

 

 
"There will be no more visitations allowed and we will have no way of knowing how Saeed is doing.”

- Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned pastor

 

The protest angered prison officials who retaliated by placing Abedini and nine others in solitary confinement.

“Saeed had previously told his family that when he was in solitary confinement in the past, that was the hardest time in his life. That every hour was like one year and that he was losing his memory and his health was deteriorating quickly,” said his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, who is at the family's home in Idaho with their two young children.

 

“We believe that he is being beaten in solitary confinement. We have no way of finding out about his health. There will be no more visitations allowed and we will have no way of knowing how Saeed is doing,” she said.

Abedini has been suffering for months from serious injuries that have not yet been treated, including severe internal bleeding from beatings at the prison, according to supporters. Now there's concern that his kidneys are no longer operating properly.

On Monday, prison guards turned Abedini’s family members away in what would have been their weekly prison visit, telling them that he is no longer permitted to have visitors.

 

“The latest developments underscore the brutality of Iran's continued violation of human rights – imprisoning, torturing and refusing medical care for Pastor Saeed merely because of his faith. This treatment not only violates international law, but is abhorrent,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, the organization representing Abedini’s U.S.-based family.

 

“We know that a tactic used by the Iranians is to place prisoners in solitary confinement in an effort to get them to give into the demands of prison officials -- in Pastor Saeed’s case, to recant his Christian faith.”

More than a decade ago, Abedini worked as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts who are forbidden from praying in public churches.

 

He was arrested in 2005, but released after pledging never to evangelize in Iran again.

When he left his wife and two kids in Idaho last summer to return to Iran to help build a state-run, secular orphanage, Iranian police pulled him off a bus and imprisoned him.

 

Monday marked the 215th day of his imprisonment.

After spending months imprisoned without any notice of charges, Abedini was sentenced in January to eight years in prison, as his family and attorneys continue to pressure the State Department and other public and private groups to facilitate his release.

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(FOX)  http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/04/29/iran-moves-american-christian-into-solitary-confinement-over-prayer-protest/

17 April 2013 - Severe beatings and internal bleeding (CP)

(CP) 17 April 2013 - The American Center for Law and Justice received news that U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini has been severely beaten in Evin Prison in Tehran, denied proper medical care, and experiencing fainting spells.

"Pastor Saeed reported today that last week he was severely beaten when the prison officials took him to the hospital. During the weekly prison visit today, Pastor Saeed's family reported that his physical condition is worsening – seeing first-hand the marks and symptoms left by the recent beating.

 

These beatings and the internal injuries are causing Pastor Saeed frequent fainting spells," the law group, which is representing Abedini's wife and two children back in America, revealed in a statement on Monday.

The Iranian-born pastor, who converted to Christianity and was building an orphanage for children when he was arrested in Tehran last year, was sentenced to eight years in prison in January for "endangering national security." The ACLJ called that a "sham trail," however, noting that the real reason behind Abedini's sentence was his faith.

 

The U.S. State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry, a number of U.S. congressmen, and the European Union have all called for the pastor's release, and more than 560,000 people from around the world have signed a petition in his support.

Inside Evin prison, Abedini has been pressured to deny his faith in Christ, and even threatened that he will not be released after the 8-year sentence unless he does so, but the pastor has refused to recant his faith.

 

He has been suffering from internal bleeding because of the beatings, however, and his wife Naghmeh has expressed deep concern for his well-being.

 

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(CP)  http://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-saeed-abedini-severely-beaten-fainting-from-internal-bleeding-93977/cpf



15 April 2013 - Saeed told to recant or never leave prison (ASSIST)

(ASSIST) 15 April 2013 -  Iranian officials are now threatening American Pastor Saeed Abedini that he will be held longer than his eight-year sentence unless he recants his faith.

 

Saeed Abedini and his family.

Writing for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Jordan Sekulow said the ACLJ has just obtained a new letter from Pastor Saeed, dated March 9, where he talks about the humiliation and psychological torture he undergoes daily.

 

Sekulow said that Abedini writes he was told, “‘Deny your faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam or else you will not be released from prison. We will make sure you are kept here even after your eight year sentence is finished.’ These are the threats that prison officials throw at me.”

Abedini continues, “My response to them is Romans 8:35-39. The reality of Christian living is that difficulties or problems do arise in our lives. Persecution and difficulties are not new occurrences, but are seen often in the Christian life. It is through the suffering and tribulations that we are to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Sekulow said Abedini closes the letter, “Pastor Saeed Abedini, the servant and slave of Jesus Christ in chains, with a lot of joy to see you soon. Evin Prison 9th March 2013.”

Sekulow wrote, “It is clear that Pastor Saeed’s faith is what is keeping him alive – sustaining him – as the mental and physical abuse he suffers at the hands of the brutal Islamic regime weakens his body.”

Sekulow continued, “He is being ordered to deny Christ, yet his faith holds strong. This is why tens of thousands of people from all over the world are writing letters to Pastor Saeed for his upcoming birthday on May 7th. Letters of prayer and support.”

Sekulow said, “Pastor Saeed is refusing to deny Christ. We must let him know that we will never forget him and will never stop working for his release.”

Sekulow encouraged readers to get involved. He said, “Join the over 20,000 others who have already done so, and write a letter to Pastor Saeed at www.SaveSaeed.org. This has already quickly become one of the largest letter writing campaigns ever.”

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(ASSIST)  http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13040079.htm

11 April 2013 - American Pastor Saeed again denied medical care but he is not forgotten (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 11 April 2013 - It has been almost a month since Iranian authorities promised Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith,  that he would receive medical treatment.  He has undergone months of beatings and abuse at the hands of his brutal Iranian captors, which has led to dangerous internal bleeding.

Today, we have learned that he has again been refused medical treatment.  Our sources in Iran have confirmed that while Pastor Saeed was indeed taken to a hospital, he was not admitted for treatment. Allegedly, the specialist he was to see was not available, and rather than having one of the many doctors at the hospital treat his life-threatening internal bleeding, prison officials returned Pastor Saeed to Evin Prison without receiving any medical treatment.

The situation surrounding Pastor Saeed’s deteriorating health and refused medical treatment is grave.  It is further evidence of the horrific human rights abuses he has undergone.  We are extremely disappointed that Pastor Saeed was literally on the doorstep of the lifesaving medical treatment he so desperately needs only to be again denied care.

While news that the prison authorities took Pastor Saeed to a hospital is a positive step, Pastor Saeed was ultimately denied necessary medical care.  We call on the Iranian authorities to uphold their promise and immediately ensure Pastor Saeed is given private medical care to treat his internal bleeding.

We were also informed that Pastor Saeed’s case has been transferred to Branch 36 of the Revolutionary Appeals Court. As we have told you, an appeal in the Iranian court system reflects an uphill battle with no guarantee or certainty that the court will even truly consider, much less overturn, Pastor Saeed’s sentence.  With this development comes negative news that court officials again denied him bail.

As we told you last week, we have developed a new global strategy that will give you a unique opportunity to have your voice heard in a powerful way – taking our public advocacy for Pastor Saeed a step further.

More than 550,000 individuals from 180 countries around the world have signed the petition to #SaveSaeed.  You have spoken out for Saeed.  Now you can speak to Pastor Saeed.

The ACLJ has obtained the mailing address for Pastor Saeed in Evin Prison.  We have developed a way for you to write him a letter.

Pastor Saeed’s 33rd birthday is May 7th, and we would like to send him encouraging messages from thousands of concerned individual’s around the world.  We want Pastor Saeed to know that he is not forgotten and thousands upon thousands of people are fighting for his freedom.

It is also an important opportunity to let Iran know that we will not forget about this persecuted pastor.  Iranian officials will be reviewing and paying attention to these letters.  They will feel the incredible pressure of the world community calling for Pastor Saeed’s release.

Go to SaveSaeed.org, and send Pastor Saeed a message today.

We have prepared suggested language for you to use, but you can also personalize your letter.  It’s simple. You write the letter, and we’ll deliver it.

Now, as we know Iran will be paying attention, it is important that we not say anything that could be harmful to Pastor Saeed’s case.  Statements against Iran or specific references to outside organizations or churches could be harmful.  But please let him know you are thinking about him, that you are praying for him, and that you want to see him released to his family.

Let Pastor Saeed know he is not forgotten, and let Iran know the world is watching.

Send your letter at SaveSaeed.org.  Click the tab at the top to write Saeed a letter.

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http://aclj.org/iran/american-pastor-saeed-denied-medical-care-not-forgotten 

18 Feb 2013 - Critics: State Department is "AWOL" on Iran's religious freedom

(RNS) 18 February 2013 -  WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious freedom activists scolded the U.S. State Department for not appearing at a hearing Friday (March 15) on Iran’s treatment of religious minorities, and called for greater government action to secure the release of people imprisoned there for their faith.

“The State Department is AWOL – they are absent without leave,” complained Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative law firm that represents the wife of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American minister in Tehran’s Evin prison.

“They act as if they are embarrassed about Mr. Abedini’s faith.”

In comparison, he said, members of the European Union have called at the United Nations for Abedini’s release.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which held the hearing on Capitol Hill, criticized the State Department for “such a deafening and almost cowardly silence” about the case.

Evan Owen, a press officer with the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said department officials who focus on Iran had “scheduling conflicts” on Friday, but Suzan Johnson Cook, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and other officials were scheduled to meet with Naghmeh Abedini Friday afternoon.

“We believe we are doing everything we can publicly and privately,” Owen said in an emailed response to a request for comment. “We work closely with Congress on all efforts to support religious freedom around the world and would be happy to discuss our efforts with them in the future.”

Naghmeh Abedini testified tearfully about having to explain to her children, who live with her in Idaho, why her husband is no longer calling them from Iran.

He was convicted in January of undermining Iran’s national security by working with house churches from 2000 to 2005 and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

“Saeed is not a political person,” she said in an interview after her testimony. “His passion is for Christ, for Jesus. So it’s ridiculous that it’s being related to national security.”

More than 515,000 people have signed an onlineACLJ petition urging U.S. and international leaders to press for Abedini’s release.

Saeed Abedini’s plight bears echoes of Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor who faced the death penalty after being accused of apostasy. He was released last year after U.S. leaders, from House Speaker John Boehner to megachurch pastor Rick Warren, rallied for his release.

“We certainly didn’t expect that it’d be harder to get help for Saeed Abedini, an American, from the American government than it would have for Youcef Nadarkahi, someone that they’ll likely never have a chance to meet,” said Jordan Sekulow, attorney for the Abedini family and executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.

The hearing also addressed the mistreatment of other religious minorities in Iran, including Zoroastrians, Jews and Baha’is.

“In recent months, the Iranian government has managed to stoop to a new low by incarcerating young infants along with their Baha’i mothers,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Ken Bowers, secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, testified 436 Baha’is are awaiting trial, appeal or sentencing in Iran, up from 230 in January 2011.

In 2010, seven Baha’i leaders were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

KRE/YS END BANKS 

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http://www.religionnews.com/2013/03/15/critics-say-state-department-is-awol-on-irans-religious-freedom/

08 Feb 2013 - Pastor Saeed reminded that he is not forgotten (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 08 February 2013 - In Iran, the family of American Pastor Saeed Abedini was able to briefly visit with Pastor Saeed yesterday – the second time since his conviction and sentence to eight years in Iran’s brutal and deadly Evin Prison for his Christian faith.

Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen, remains cut-off from speaking with his wife and two young children who live in Idaho. Prior to his conviction and sentence, he was able periodically to talk with them over the phone. Now, that is prohibited. The fact is Naghmeh, along with their young son and daughter; do not know when, or even if, they will ever hear his voice again.

During Monday’s visit with family, Pastor Saeed expressed apprehension and concern about his fate, openly questioning whether efforts are still underway to secure his freedom.  It appears the Iranian prison guards continue their lies – pushing propaganda to try and convince Pastor Saeed that he has been forgotten.

Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, told us, "When I heard this from my husband, I cried. It broke my heart. Behind those walls he feels helpless and relies on us to be his voice. It is so easy to feel forgotten in the walls of the prison. Please help me make sure he is never forgotten."

We continue our work here at home and around the world to bring attention to Pastor Saeed’s case and generate global pressure on Iran to release him.

Now that Secretary of State John Kerry is on the job, we urge him to follow through with statements provided during the confirmation hearings when he personally called for Pastor Saeed’s release.

We are also working with Members of Congress like Senator Marco Rubio who was instrumental in obtaining Secretary Kerry’s statement, Senator Lindsey Graham who has written a letter to President Obama urging his direct involvement, and many, many others.

In Iran, Pastor Saeed’s attorney filed an appeal yesterday in Tehran. It could take considerable time for the Iranian court to act on the written appeal.  It’s important to note, though, as we saw in the case of Pastor Youcef, appeals in these cases often lack any semblance of due process and justice, and are frequently no more than a rubber stamp of the initial unjust trial.

Pastor Saeed has not been forgotten.  While Pastor Saeed’s family was able to inform him of some of the ongoing efforts for his release, there is more we can and must do to secure his freedom.

In addition to signing the ACLJ’s petition urging pressure from the international community for his release, we have put together a vital resource page on more ways you can get involved in the effort to Save Pastor Saeed.  We have also developed a new website SaveSaeed.orgwhere you can easily sign the petition and share critical information with your friends and family through social media.

Sign the petitionshare his story; make your voice heard loud and clear.  And please, don’t forget to pray for Pastor Saeed, his family in Iran, and his wife and children here in the United States.

 

Pastor Saeed must not be forgotten.  Iran must release this American pastor, this U.S. citizen.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/despite-iran-lies-american-pastor-saeed-not-forgotten

Letter from Saeed encourages other while he remains in prison (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 26 January 2013

Writing from my heart.

My Dear Friends,

The conditions here get so very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky.

Various (bullying) groups, the psychological warfare, a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked, being confronted with extremists in the prison who create another prison within the prison walls, and the death threats…

It is interesting that because I am a Christian pastor, I am carefully watched. I am expected to smile at them despite what is being done and to understand why they are doing all of these things. But, of course, I can clearly see what is going on and because I want to serve God, I see all of these difficulties as golden opportunities and great doors to serve. There are empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ. Maybe you are also in such a situation, so pray and seek God that He would use you and direct you in the pressures and difficulties of your lives.

There are those who are enemies of the Living Bible and do not want to hear. They are trying to put me under such horrific pressures (that are sometimes unbearable) so that they can show me that my faith is empty and not real. And after all of these pressures, after all of the nails they have pressed against my hands and feet, they are only waiting for one thing…for me to deny Christ. But they will never get this from me. This is why the Bible is Truth and they are in the way of destruction.

There is another group who does not know the Gospel of Truth. Instead of truly listening and meditating on God’s Word, they are just waiting to see how I react to all of their pressures and persecution. What will come out of me during these intense times? But again, this is another golden opportunity for me to shine the light of Christ in this dark world and to let God to use me.

Yesterday when I was singing worship songs, the head of my cell room attacked me in order to stop me from praising but in response I hugged him and showed him love. He was shocked.

It is during these harsh conditions, that I deeply need God’s Saving Grace so that I can be the fragrant scent of Christ in the dark house of Evin prison. I have often seen the Shining Morning Star in the darkness of this prison and I have seen His amazing and supernatural works. Oh, how beautiful is seeing the light of the Shining Morning Star of Christ in such evil darkness.

So:

  • See your golden opportunities in pressures and difficulties.
  • See the Shining Morning Star in the dark times of your life.

I Love Him! He is Gracious, Merciful, and Righteous to me. I now know that I have not been forgotten and that we are together in this path. God gives me Grace.
This is my message for the Church: Stay Strong for His Glory. He will come back soon! Be with God and give your best efforts for His kingdom.

 

Pastor Saeed, servant of Jesus Christ in chains for endurance of Gospel. I love you all.

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 Share his letter.  Pray.  Join over a quarter of a million others, and sign the petition at SaveSaeed.org.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/pastor-saeed-writes-psychological-warfare-physical-violence-death-threats-iranian-prison

27 January 2013 - Pastor Saeed sentenced to 8 years in prison (ACLJ)

(ASSIST) 27 January 2013 - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional and human rights law, said today’s action by an Iranian court convicting and sentencing American Pastor Saeed Abedini for his Christian faith is a travesty that sadly underscores Iran’s brazen violation of international law and a tragic reminder that Iran is one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom.

According to ACLJ, in an unexpected development in Iran today (Sunday, January 27, 2013), and without family present, Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court – known as the “hanging judge” – verbally convicted and sentenced Pastor Saeed to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches.

“This is a real travesty – a mockery of justice,” said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, who represents Pastor Saeed’s wife and children living in the U.S. “From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release. Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights. We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed.”

Pastor Saeed and his attorney were permitted to attend just one day of his trial, which began January 21st. They were barred from attending and participating in further proceedings. During his imprisonment, Pastor Saeed has been beaten and tortured raising serious concerns about his medical condition.

Pastor Saeed’s conviction and sentence in the Iranian Revolutionary Court had to be approved at the very top – The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to sign off.

The ACLJ represents Pastor Saeed’s wife and children who reside in the U.S. This statement from Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, after learning about today’s court action, says: “The promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government. These false hopes amount to psychological torture. You don’t want to trust them, but they build a glimmer of hope before the crushing blow. With today’s development I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow added: “Here’s the troubling reality: we have a U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since him imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran. A harsh sentence in a notorious prison – likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime. Simply because of his Christian faith.”

The ACLJ has been working with the U.S. Government and at the United Nations to generate support for Pastor Saeed. Both the White House and the U.S. State Department have condemned Iran and called for Pastor Saeed’s release.

Pastor Saeed, 32, was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 through marriage to his American wife. He and his wife, Naghmeh, have two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. In 2008, Pastor Saeed became an ordained minister with the American Evangelistic Association. Naghmeh and the children reside in the western U.S. The Iranian government does not recognize his U.S. citizenship and for 3 years he travelled freely back and forth from Iran until this summer when he was put under house arrest. He was imprisoned in September.

The ACLJ is providing legal representation to his U.S.-based family and working with various contacts in Iran on his case. Further, the ACLJ launched an international campaign urging the United Nations, the U.S. State Department and Congress to get involved and demand Pastor Saeed's release. The ACLJ also has heard from nearly 250,000 Americans demanding Pastor Saeed’s release.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has affiliated offices in Israel, Russia, Kenya, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. The ACLJ is online at www.aclj.org.

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(ASSIST)  http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13010129.htm

24 January 2013 - Pastor Saeed barred from his own trial - Can't defend himself against false accusations (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 24 January 2013 - In a clear and continued blatant violation of human rights, Iran has continued the trial against American Pastor Saeed Abedini for his Christian faith today, but barred Saeed and his Iranian attorney from the courtroom.

Iranian prosecutors brought testimony against Pastor Saeed, attempting to force lay church leaders to testify against him before the infamous “hanging judge.”

Yesterday, we learned was the only day for Pastor Saeed to present a defense, but now he and his attorney have been shut out of the trial against him.

While the hearing was closed and Pastor Saeed and his attorney were not present, the ACLJ was able to confirm what occurred at the hearing through confidential first-hand sources who were present at the hearing. The ACLJ is not in a position to reveal the sources because of concern for their safety inside Iran.

Today, we confirmed that testimony was taken from one lay church leader about the individual’s connection to Pastor Saeed.  This individual was specifically questioned about converting to Christianity and whether Saeed encouraged the conversion to Christianity, which he did.  Additionally, the court asked for details about how Pastor Saeed has financed his multiple trips back to Iran to work on establishing an orphanage for children in needand whether any foreign funds were involved.

Responding to this news out of Iran, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, said,

We have exposed Iran's lie. Today, there was a confirmed hearing with a Christian believer who had worked alongside Saeed.  Saeed's judge, without Saeed or his lawyer present, questioned this individual about converting to Christianity, working with Saeed, and involvement in the house churches. The judge told this individual to expect a summons within a month to return to testify against Saeed. What was released by the Iranian media yesterday was clearly a lie.  As Saeed told me during one of our conversations, he suspected the regime planned to hold him in prison for a long time. This testimony today is further proof that Iran was just trying to silence the media and has no intention of releasing my husband anytime soon. We need to continue exposing Iran's violations of Saeed's human rights until my husband is safely back in my arms.

The continued lies and demand for more testimony in a month makes it clear that Iran has no intention whatsoever of releasing Pastor Saeed, allowing to him to return to the U.S., or even issuing a verdict any time soon.  Despite promises to Pastor Saeed’s lawyer yesterday by the court that a sentence could be expected next week and that bail would be granted, Iran has continued its lies and disinformation campaign to deflect attention from its abuse of this U.S. citizen for his faith.

Iran also demanded information on the state of the house churches today, even though Pastor Saeed has not been involved in the network of house churches he helped establish after his agreement with the Iranian government in 2009.

In a twisted irony, meeting in a house to worship isn’t illegal, even in Iran.  However the regime is attempting to make it illegal by claiming that the lawful act of worshiping in a house undermines Iranian national security.  Pastor Saeed has been charged with “intentionally” undermining national security – but how does the regime plan to prove his actions were “intentional” – by proving that establishing house churches, a lawful act, was done with the purpose of undermining the government.

The trial against Pastor Saeed is a sham, and a critical violation of human rights.  Yet, the U.S. State department has still refused to call for the release of this U.S. citizen.  Both Iran’s treatment of this man for his faith and our State Department’s lack of response in defense of this U.S. citizen are outrageous.

 

The ACLJ is continuing our global efforts to secure his release.  Help us return Pastor Saeed to his wife’s arms.  Please continue to sign the petition for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.  Time is of the essence.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/american-pastor-barred-iranian-trial-address-bogus-charges

23 January 2013 - Iranian court accuses Saeed of enticing young people to Christianity (WWM)

(WWM) 23 January 2013 - Iran on Monday accused an Idaho man of trying to entice young people to Christianity and away from the country’s official religion, Islam, the man’s American-based legal team says.

 
The trial of Saeed Abedini, 32, of Boise, began Monday in the Tehran courtoom of Abbas Pir-Abbassi, a Revolutionary Court judge notorious for harsh sentences. Abedini faces a lengthy prison sentence and possibly the death penalty for the alleged crime of attempting to undermine the Iranian government through the spread of Christianity.
 
The American Center for Law and Justice said prosecutors presented evidence that Abedini created “a network of Christian house churches” starting in 2000, the year he left Islam for Christianity.
 
“The regime alleged that Pastor Saeed intentionally sought to sway the minds of Iranian youth by turning the youth toward Christianity and against Islam, the official religion of Iran,” the center said in a prepared statement.
 
The American Center for Law and Justice is a Washington, D.C.-based attorney group that uses litigation to press for religious and speech freedom. It has waged a lobbying campaign to persuade the Obama Administration to make a public demand for Abedini’s release.
 
Abedini was arrested in September during a visit in which supporters say he was managing the construction of a non-religious orphanage. His supporters say he had agreed in 2009 to stop building the church network and to focus exclusively on the orphanage project, and that he had made eight orphanage-oriented visits to Iran before his arrest.
 
The center said Abedini is represented in Iran by “Naser Sarbazi, a Muslim lawyer in Iran who is dedicated to preserving human rights and upholding the right for all individuals to practice their faith freely.” It also said Abedini’s father, who lives in Iran, was the only family member permitted in the courtroom.
 
Abedini’s wife, Nagmeh, posted this account of Monday’s courtroom proceedings on the “Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini” Facebook page:
 
Saeed was able to share from the Bible to the Judge and say that he was not a political person and had no political intentions, but he was a follower of His Lord Jesus Christ. There will be no more hearings and the formal charges and sentences will most likely be announced next week according to his lawyer in Iran.
 
There seemed to have been moments when the judge was moved by Saeed's testimony. Please continue to pray for the Judge and Saeed's release and his return back to our family.
 
We should be hearing some news next week.

 
The American Center for Law and Justice posted a report on its website Monday that claims several lay leaders of the house churches have been summoned to appear in court. But it also said it’s unknown whether the judge will permit any more witnesses, or whether the trial is essentially completed.
 
Abedini and his wife were born Muslim in Iran. She moved to the United States as a child, obtained U.S. citizenship, converted to Christianity, relocated to Idaho with her family, and eventually returned to Iran to connect with her extended family, said Lauren Phillips, coordinator for international outreach for Cavalry Chapel of Boise, where the couple are members.
 
Though ordained after his work planting house churches in Iran, Abedini is not active as a pastor in his home church.
 
In Iran Nagmeh met Abedini, who had converted to Christianity in 2000 and was helping to start house churches. Married in 2004, they moved to Idaho in 2005 after Abedini endured an interrogation session over his church activities, according to an attorney at the American Center for Law and Justice. As the spouse of an American citizen, Abedini too was granted U.S. citizenship.

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(WorldWatchMonitor)http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/english/country/iran/2021748  

22 Jan 2013 - Pastor Saeed"s firs day on trial (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 22 January 2013 - Yesterday, Pastor Saeed Abedini appeared before Judge Pir-Abassi in Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Courts.  The prosecutor charged Pastor Saeed with attempting to undermine the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches. The court presented evidence that dated back to the year 2000, the year Pastor Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity.  The regime alleged that Pastor Saeed intentionally sought to sway the minds of Iranian youth by turning the youth toward Christianity and against Islam, the official religion of Iran.

Pastor Saeed is represented by Dr. Naser Sarbazi, a Muslim lawyer in Iran who is dedicated to preserving human rights and upholding the right for all individuals to practice their faith freely. Less than 24 hours before the trial, Dr. Sarbazi was permitted to meet with Pastor Saeed to prepare a defense.  Dr. Sarbazi presented a strong defense as to why Pastor Saeed’s Christian activities were not a threat to the national security of Iran.  He presented arguments as to how Pastor Saeed’s Christian activities were motivated solely by his faith and without a political agenda. Pastor Saeed’s father was the only family member allowed in the courtroom.

Dr. Sarbazi told Pastor Saeed’s family that today was his only day to present a defense on Saeed’s behalf before the court.  However, it is known that several lay church leaders have been summoned to give testimony before the court tomorrow. It is unclear at this point whether the court will continue to question witnesses in the case tomorrow or whether today’s hearing represents the complete trial.

Although we are confident that Dr. Sarbazi presented a strong defense, we recognize that Pastor Saeed’s fate still lies in the hands of the Iranian regime, a regime whose actions remain unpredictable.  It is still unclear from the trial what sentence, whether a lengthy prison term or even death, the regime seeks to impose on Pastor Saeed.  Judge Pir-Abassi could render his verdict as early as next week, which means there is still time for the leaders of the free world to speak out loudly on Pastor Saeed’s behalf. We know from past cases that strong international support is crucial, but the responsibility to support a U.S. citizen starts with our own government. While we patiently await Pastor Saeed’s verdict there is still time for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to stand publicly with this U.S. citizen. 

Do your part today and sign our petition urging the U.S. government to stand publicly with Pastor Saeed.

Update: The AP is reporting that Pastor Saeed has been released or will be released in a matter of days after posting bail. The fact is that bail has been presented to the Iranian authorities on numerous occasions, including today after the trial, but has not been accepted.

This from Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh:

This is all a lie by the Iranian media. This has been a repeated promise by the Iranian regime since Saeed was first thrown in prison on September 26, 2012. We have presented bail. After the Judge told Saeed’s lawyer that bail was back on the table, the family in Tehran ran around in circles today to make sure Saeed was let out on bail. But again the bail officer rejected bail. This is a game to silence the international media. The lawyer in Iran was asked to make a statement, but that was before the family’s attempts today and before the regime again rejected bail. Dr. Sarbazi told me today that the regime is not dropping the charges against Saeed – this is the only act that would allow Saeed to leave Iran and return to the U.S.

 

Pastor Saeed remains in prison. He has not been released on bail. And Iranian authorities continue to refuse to accept the bail presented to secure his release. We cannot trust the Iranian regime's reported promise to release him and return him to his family until Pastor Saeed is safely back in the U.S.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/pastor-saeed-trial-iran-uphold-obligations-protect-religious-liberty

Saeed to go before "hanging Judge" on 21 January (FOXNEWS)

(FOXNEWS) 17 January 2013 - Saeed Abedini, will go before one of Iran’s most notorious “hanging judges” on Jan. 21 on charges of compromising national security. Court documents indicate that the charges are directly related to Abedini’s work starting a house church movement, and his supporters say it is a clear case of a Christian being punished for his beliefs..

Abedini’s attorney told advocacy group American Center for Law and Justice that most of the charges against Abedini are indecipherable except for one that stems from the year 2000, when he converted from Islam to Christianity. Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned since September, when he returned to Iran to visit family. In a letter written to his wife just days ago, Abedini said his captors have tortured him and given him mixed signals about his fate.

 

“This is the process in my life today: one day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus,” Abedini said in the letter. “One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy.”

 

Abedini, 32, became a U.S. citizen in 2010 when he married his American wife, Naghmeh Abedini. Two years earlier he had become an ordained minister.

The Iranian government does not recognize his American citizenship, though it had enabled him to travel freely between both countries until this past summer. That's when he was pulled off a bus and placed under house arrest, according to his supporters.

The case is similar to that of Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian pastor who was recently freed after serving three years in prison and then being re-arrested on Christmas Day, all for converting to Christianity.

 

Nadarkhani, 35, initially faced possible execution, but was freed after Fox News and other media outlets drew attention to his plight. His attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, has been imprisoned and remains in Iran's notoriously brutal Evin Prison, where his health is rapidly deteriorating and he is being denied proper dental care, according to his family. He has been jailed for advocating Nadarkhani's case and other human rights cases.

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(FOXNEWS)  http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/14/trial-date-set-for-american-pastor-imprisoned-in-iran/

Letter from Saeed Abedini (smuggled out of Evin prison) (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 14 January 2013 - (Saeed Abedini wrote the following letter, smuggled out of Evin prison in Iran) 

When I heard that empty Christmas settings were placed during Christmas as a reminder of my imprisonment and those imprisoned for Christ, tears of joy filled my eyes. I was able to share about this with other prisoners and they were shocked by the love and support we have for each other in Jesus. I told them how in the Bible we are all considered brothers and sisters (despite race, color, or nationality) and we are to share in each other’s pains.  This comes from our Lord.

The Word of God says that when we are persecuted for our faith, we are to count it all joy. When I think that all of these trials and persecutions are being recorded in heaven for me, my heart is filled with complete joy.

The Bible says that the Joy of the Lord is our strength. Without the joy of the Lord we cannot live. It is this joy in our life that gives us strength to continue in this life. Without strength, we cannot continue the work of the Lord and without joy, there is no strength.

I always wanted God to make me a godly man. I did not realize that in order to become a godly man we need to become like steel under pressure. It is a hard process of warm and cold to make steel.  This is the process in my life today: one day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my family and kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus. One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy. These hot and cold days only make you a man of steel for moving forward in expanding His Kingdom.

When for 120 days you sleep in a room with a giant light that is constantly lit, not allowing you to separate day from night, and when you can only see true sunlight for a few minutes a week, that’s when you are becoming His Workmanship and you can be a vessel in bringing His Kingdom in a dark place and you are able to share the Gospel of Peace and Life to the dying world. And this is where you learn you can love your enemies with all of your heart.

I am looking forward to the day I can see all of you who are behind me with your prayers and to embrace you in my arms. Thank you for the love you have showed me.

What is in us is stronger than what is in the world and it has conquered the world.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, in chains for our Lord Jesus Christ

Saeed handed over to "hanging Judge" (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 14 January 2013  -American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is being held in one of Iran’s most abusive prisons because of his Christian faith, faces a new challenge.  His case was just transferred to a judge who is notorious for violating human rights.

Over this past weekend, the case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini was referred by the local Iranian prosecutor to Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.  The case was assigned to Judge Pir-Abassi, a judge notorious for his harsh sentences against those who exercise their fundamental freedoms. In the international law arena, Judge Pir-Abassi is often referred to as one of Iran’s "hanging judges" for the numerous individuals he has sent to the gallows.

In April 2011, the European Union named Judge Pir-Abassi as an individual subject to sanctions for human rights violations.  According to the Official Journal of the European Union, Judge Pir-Abassi presided over numerous unfair trials of human rights activists following the 2009 election, handing down long prison sentences and several death sentences to those convicted.

Additionally, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended to the State Department in its 2012 Annual report that the U.S. government similarly issue sanctions against Judge Pir-Abassi.  The Commission stated that Judge Pir-Abassi is “responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom” and the U.S. should “continue to bar from entry into the United States and freeze [his and his immediate family members’] assets.”  The U.S. State Department has not, to date, sanctioned Judge Pir-Abassi.

And although the State Department is aware that an American citizen’s fate lies in the hands of a noted human rights abuser, it remains inactive.  To date, the State Department, while acknowledging the case, has thus far refused to take decisive action on this American citizen’s behalf.  It is an absolute travesty that the U.S. government would standby idly while an American citizen, detained for his exercise of a fundamental human right, deteriorates in an Iranian prison.

This new development is highly troubling—it appears Iran is determined to remove any chance of the American pastor receiving any semblance of a fair trial.  Even more troubling is that the U.S. government has remained silent, essentially abandoning this American in his search for justice.

 

We will continue to bring you the latest developments in Pastor Saeed’s case while urging the action of the U.S. State Department.  Join our efforts to free Pastor Saeed by signing the petition demanding the State Department take action on his behalf.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/american-father-husband-abandoned-iran-handed-hanging-judge