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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.”
(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.
(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.
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(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 must not be forgotten. Iran must release this American pastor, this U.S. citizen.
(ACLJ) 26 January 2013
- Writing from my heart.
Pastor Saeed, servant of Jesus Christ in chains for endurance of Gospel. I love you all.
Share his letter. Pray. Join over a quarter of a million others, and sign the petition at SaveSaeed.org.
(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.
(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.
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.
(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.
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.
(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 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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.