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ICC Calls for the Release of Saeed Abedini on the Anniversary of His Conviction

1/27/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) is partnering with Christians across the world to call out for the release of American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini. January 27, 2015 marks the two year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s conviction for allegedly undermining the national security of Iran through his involvement in house churches. On this date, he was condemned to a sentence of eight years in Iran’s Evin Prison which the American Center for Law and Justice has referred to as a “virtual death sentence.”

On the morning of January 27, 2013, Pastor Saeed stood before Judge Pir-Abassi in Tehran to receive his verdict. Shortly after the trial, State Department representative Darby Holladay reported that, “Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day (January 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini’s trial.”

Accounts of the abuse that Pastor Saeed has faced during his imprisonment to date have been numerous and disturbing. Physical abuse received in prison caused internal injuries that forced him to be hospitalized, but even still he did not receive the needed care. In a letter written to his family, Saeed stated that his nurses refused to touch him or give him “pain medication that they would give other prisoners because [he] was unclean” due to his faith. He reports that there were nights that he was unable to sleep due to the intense pain and that he did not recognize his own appearance when he saw a mirror within the prison hospital.

Despite the fact that the Iranian government reported in January of 2013 that Pastor Saeed would be released, the empty promises have yet to come to fruition. Early in his detainment, after the regime said he would be released soon, his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, said that, “the promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government.” She went on to say that she will “now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”

Organizations and departments across the world are advocating on behalf of Pastor Saeed. Secretary of State John Kerry first called for his release on March 22, 2013 and again on July 28, 2014 in addition to citing Saeed’s case in the U.S. State Department’s most recent report on international religious freedom. President Obama mentioned the case in his first phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but additional steps have not been taken, despite international pressure. The UN Working Group has documented Saeed’s case closely and concluded that, “the adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Abedini and accord him an enforceable right to compensation.” On September 16, 2014, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report condemning the imprisonment and calling Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Saeed.

ICC’s Regional Manager, Todd Daniels, said, “We continue to call for the Iranian regime to immediately release Saeed Abedini. His only crime is his faith in Jesus Christ and that he met together with others who share that faith, activities that are legal under the Iranian constitution. Furthermore, his arrest came after the Iranian government had given him permission to travel to Iran to carry out humanitarian work in the country that he loves. It was while doing this work of establishing an orphanage that he was arrested, and two years ago today convicted of crimes against the state. He continues to languish behind bars and his wife, two young children, and family remain heart-broken as he is held as a violent criminal serving an eight year prison sentence.

For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East:

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