Wednesday, December 19, 2012
ACLJ Calls for Release of Iranian-American Christian Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Because of his Religious Beliefs
(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional and human rights law, announced today it is representing the wife of an Iranian-American pastor who is being held in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith. Saeed Abedini, who converted to Christianity, has been indicted by an Iranian court and is facing formal charges that could result in a lengthy prison term or possibly even the death penalty. The ACLJ, which is providing legal representation for his U.S.-based family, is also launching an international campaign calling on the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and Congress to demand the release of Pastor Saeed.
"This is a very troubling pattern that we have seen inside Iran - Christian husbands and fathers who are punished for their religious beliefs," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "What makes this particular case so much more disturbing is that Pastor Saeed, who was born and raised in Iran, has been granted U.S. citizenship. He's been in prison for nearly three months simply because of his Christian faith. Now, he’s been indicted by an Iranian court - a development that could very well result in a death sentence. In addition to our legal work, it's important to get this story out - to generate global support for Pastor Saeed and to engage the U.N. and the U.S. government in securing his 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 and this week an Iranian court indicted him on several charges, which have not been made public. In fact, the government has refused to notify Pastor Saeed, his attorney, or his family about what’s included in the specific charges. What’s clear is that Pastor Saeed is in prison because of his Christian faith and his desire to share the Gospel with others.