Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 18 June |
Saint of the Day: St. Gregory Barbarigo
home iconNews
line break icon

Iran Rejects Appeal from Imprisoned US Pastor

© DR

Adelaide Mena - Catholic News Agency - published on 08/29/13 - updated on 06/07/17

Calls for U.S. action continue after an Iranian court rejected an appeal from Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his religious work in the country.

Calls for U.S. action continue after an Iranian court rejected an appeal from Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his religious work in the country.

“The news out of Iran is devastating to our family,” said Naghmeh Abedini, wife of the pastor, in an Aug. 26 statement.

“From past cases, we know that the decision to release my husband lies solely at the mercy of the Supreme Leader,” she added. “It is imperative in the coming days, weeks, and months that we remain vigilant to call for Pastor Saeed's release. This includes continuing to put pressure on Iran from the U.S. government and governments around the world.”

Born and raised as a Muslim in Iran, Abedini converted to Christianity in 2000 and obtained U.S. citizenship a decade later, following his marriage to Naghmeh, who is also a U.S. citizen. The couple and their two children live in Idaho.

Following his conversion, Abedini worked with Christian house churches in Iran until he drew staunch opposition from the government. In 2009, he came to an agreement with the regime under which he would be permitted to travel the country freely if he stopped work with the churches.

Since that time, the pastor has worked with secular orphanages in the country. Last fall, however, he was arrested while visiting those orphanages and charged with posing a threat to national security for his previous work with the house churches, despite the fact that such churches are technically legal in the country.

Abedini was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s Evin prison, but had been seeking an appeal to reduce the length of the sentence. In a letter several months ago, he said the Iranian authorities were trying to force him to renounce his faith in Christ.

Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice – which is representing Abedini’s family in the U.S. – explained that while “we remained hopeful that Iran would use its own appeal process to finally show respect for Pastor Saeed's basic human rights, again Iran has demonstrated an utter disregard for the fundamentals of human rights.”

He added that the “legal decision also signals a new level of concern for Pastor Saeed’s safety.”

While in prison, the pastor has faced beatings, solitary confinement, and serious injuries, leading him to be significantly weakened over the past year.

“By keeping the 8-year prison sentence in place,” Sekulow said, Abedini “now potentially faces additional beatings and abuse inside Evin Prison.”

Calling Iran’s decision a “deeply troubling” illustration of the regime’s continued violation of human rights, Sekulow explained that the family is currently “exploring all options,” which include appealing to the Supreme Court in Tehran and pleading for a pardon from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Additionally, global attention and pressure could play a key role in securing Abedini’s freedom.

Last fall, Iran released another Christian pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani, after three years of imprisonment. The move was attributed largely to mounting pressure from the international community.

Now, Abedini’s family is calling for the U.S. to take a stronger stance to protect one of its own citizens from unjust imprisonment and abuse.

Naghmeh said that she is “disappointed that as a country that was founded on religious freedom, our government has been awkwardly silent as an American citizen is wasting away in an Iranian prison because he chose to practice his God-given right to choose his religion.”

Originally published by Catholic News Agency on 28 August 2013.

Tags:
IranReligious Freedom
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s deep faith shines in her viral performance on ...
2
Lords' Prayer
Philip Kosloski
What does “hallowed be thy name” mean in the Our Fath...
3
HOMILY
Magnús Sannleikur
5-year-old boy interrupts homily and asks for prayers for his int...
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
Edifa
4 Phrases about Jesus that you should never say to your child
6
Revista Misión
Interview: The husband of Chiara Corbella on his wife’s sac...
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.