Wife of Imprisoned Pastor Asks US Officials to Obtain Release of Her Husband
American officials must do more to obtain the release of unjustly imprisoned Iranian-Americans, according to the wife of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who is currently serving an eight-year sentence at Evin Prison.
Saeed Abedini, who converted to Christianity in 2000, was arrested in July 2012 when he visited Iran to see his family and build an orphanage. In January 2013 he was sentenced to eight years in prison for “intending to disrupt Iranian national security by establishing a network of Christian house churches.” House churches are unlicensed churches held in people’s homes due to the authorities’ refusal to issue permits for churches.
Abedini has been held at Rajaee Shahr prison among dangerous criminals since November 2013. His case is a blatant reflection of the lack of religious freedom in Iran, and in particular, the authorities’ intolerance of any proselytizing religion, seeing it as a direct threat to the Shia order.
Abedini’s wife told the Campaign that she will try to meet members of the Iranian delegation, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, when she attends a human rights conference in New York next month (September 17-18), which will coincide with the opening of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, to stress the importance of human rights issues for the U.S. and the international community.
Ms. Abedini added the last report she had received about her husband was that on April 6, 2015, he was beaten by prison guards.
“Since Iran and the U.S. reached a nuclear deal, the State Department has been doing less. They are mostly silent. When we contact them, they say they are working on this issue and Saeed’s case is a priority, but they have not given details,” said Naghmeh Abedini in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Jason Rezaian and Amir Hekmati are two other Iranian-Americans being held in prison in Iran. In addition, Omid Kokabee, a young physicist studying in the U.S., has been imprisoned after returning to Iran for a visit.
According to Article 113 of the Iranian Constitution, President Rouhani has the authority to question the Judiciary regarding the condition of prisoners and their fair treatment under the law.