Iranian American Pastor Detained in Iran

December 21, 2012, Washington, D.C. – Pastor Saeed Abedini, a 32-year-old Iranian American who lives with his wife and two young children in the U.S., has been imprisoned in Iran.    

A convert to Christianity, Abedini was visiting family and conducting humanitarian work in Iran at the time of his arrest. News reports indicate that he has been detained without any specific charges since last September. 

Abedini had previously spent years in Iran as a Christian leader, developing underground church communities for Christian converts.  According to his attorneys, Abedini had previously signed an agreement with the government of Iran in which he would be allowed to enter and leave the country freely as long as did not participate in church activities. 

“He thought if he honored his part, they would honor theirs. He was transparent about his humanitarian work there,” explained Tiffany Barrans, International Legal Director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the organization representing Abedini’s U.S.-based family.

Abedini has been told by authorities that, because of his involvement with Christian house churches and foreign Christian satellite TV ministries, he will be charged with espionage and threatening Iran’s national security.  His family has reported that he is awaiting trial at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and that he has been harshly interrogated and beaten. They have been attempting to release him bail but have not yet been successful. 

The ACLJ, working with members of the U.S. government and the United Nations, is attempting to obtain Abedini’s release.  The U.S. State Department has stated that it is in contact with Abedini’s family.  State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that officials were “aware of the case,” but that she could not elaborate because of “privacy considerations.”

While PAAIA is focused on public affairs issues of domestic U.S. concern to the Iranian American community, we are seriously concerned about reports of Abedini’s arrest and detention by the authorities in Iran. PAAIA supports respect for human rights, the rule of law, and due process for all peoples and in all countries, and is urging the U.S. State Department to fully investigate this matter and bring an expeditious resolution regarding the release and return of Abedini to the United States.

Click here to view the Facebook page for Saeed Abedini. 

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