Secretary Kerry calls for freedom of imprisoned Iranian pastor
By Adelaide Darling
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

.- After repeatedly being petitioned by lawmakers and citizens, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith.

“I am deeply concerned about the fate of U.S citizen Saeed Abedini, who has been detained for nearly six months and was sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs,” said Kerry in a March 22 press release.

Secretary Kerry wrote that he was “disturbed” by accounts of Abedini’s “physical and psychological abuse in prison” as well as a “lack of due process” in Iran’s refusal to allow Swiss access to Abedini on behalf of the U.S.

“Such mistreatment violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws,” Kerry commented.

He added his hopes that the pastor would be able to receive further medical attention from specialists outside of the prison.

“The best outcome for Mr. Abedini is that he be immediately released,” the Secretary of State said.

Thirty-two year old Abedini is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison following a September 2012 arrest.

The pastor converted to Christianity from Islam in 2000 and has been a U.S. citizen since 2010, after marrying an American woman.

He initially attracted the ire of the Iranian regime for his work with house churches. In 2009, the government came to an agreement with him, under which he would stop his work with the churches in exchange for the ability to travel freely in the country. 

Abedini then turned his focus to non-religious orphanages. However, when he was arrested last fall, Iranian officials cited his earlier work with churches, claiming that while such work is technically legal, he had threatened national security by doing so.

Abedini’s wife, Naghema, lives in the U.S. and has been working to raise awareness of her husband’s plight, aided by the European Centre for Law and Justice and the American Center of Law and Justice.

The organizations have helped collect nearly 550,000 signatures in support of Abedini. They have also run a Twitter campaign on his behalf and have presented his case to the United Nations and to members of Congress and the State Department.

Other prominent leaders have also called for the pastor’s release, including a group of Congressmen and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council Eileen C. Donahoe.

Secretary Kerry’s response follows the release of a recent letter from Abedini to his wife describing the conditions of the prison, including brutal treatment of a disabled prisoner in solitary confinement.

In the letter, Abedini also describes the treatment he has received, including beatings and refusal of medical treatment by prison staff because of his beliefs. Due to the abuse he has suffered, the pastor said that he did not even recognize himself when he saw his image in a mirror for the first time in months.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center of Law and Justice, said that he was “very pleased” by Kerry’s statement.

“By speaking out directly on behalf of Pastor Saeed, Secretary Kerry is taking our government’s most aggressive action yet in working to secure the freedom of this U.S. citizen,” he said.

He applauded the “bold and public statement,” along with the formal recognition of the abuses Abedini has suffered.

“By engaging the Pastor Saeed case at the highest level, we’re hopeful that the State Department will now do everything in its power to secure the release of this U.S. citizen,” Sekulow said.
Abedini’s wife also released a statement, saying that she was “hopeful that this will put more pressure on the Iranian government to act and free Saeed so he can return to our family in the United States.”

Tags: Religious freedom, Iran, Pastor Abedini

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: