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Iranian-American Detained in Iran Facing Death Penalty

ICC Note: “An Iranian-American who will go on trial in Iran on Monday (Jan. 21) for apostasy, or leaving Islam, has been beaten and threatened with the death penalty during interrogation,” Morning Star News reports. The pastor is scheduled to appear in court next week on charges of compromising national security. In a recent statement, the US State Department declared that the pastor was arrested solely for his religious convictions, yet the US government has yet to call for his release.

01/15/2013 Iran (MSN) -An Iranian-American who will go on trial in Iran on Monday (Jan. 21) for apostasy, or leaving Islam, has been beaten and threatened with the death penalty during interrogation, sources said.

Saeed Abedini, 32, will have his case handled by a judge notorious for handing death sentences to human rights activists. Judge Pir-Abassi has been condemned by the European Union and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for human rights violations.

Legal experts working closely with the case say that the Iranian prosecution has already threatened Abedini with the prospect of capital punishment.

“We know that during interrogation – interrogations in which the prosecutor participated – Saeed was told he could hang for his faith in Jesus,” said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

Court documents indicate Abedini is being charged with “compromising national security” due to his work of establishing a house-church movement. Abedini’s attorney said most of the charges are unclear except for him becoming a Christian in 2000, according to the ACLJ.

The Iranian government has also confiscated the assets of an Iranian bank account worth $105,000 donated to Abedini to build an orphanage.

The Christian was arrested in September when he returned to Iran to visit his family. He has traveled between the United States and Iran a number of times since becoming a U.S. citizen in 2010, when he married his American wife, Naghmeh Abedini.

He is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, known for its harsh conditions, detainment of political prisoners and frequent torture of inmates.

If no intervention takes place, he could face a prison sentence of 18 years or the death penalty. Paul Hattaway, director of Asia Harvest and author of an upcoming spiritual biography of Abedini, wrote in a recent appeal that “from the human level, there is little hope for Saeed.”

This year, in addition to the arrests of the house-church attendees, pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was detained on Christmas Day, then released on Jan. 7. He was arrested in 2009 for “apostasy” from Islam and faced the death penalty but was released in September following an international outcry.

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