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American Pastor Saeed Abedini was among four Americans released by Iranian officials at the same time as sanctions were released as part of the nuclear agreement

01/16/2016 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been released by Iranian officials following more than three years in prison for his faith. His release comes along with three other American citizens. The release of the American citizens comes the same day as expected sanctions relief from the United States and other European powers in line with the nuclear agreement reached last year.

The release of Pastor Saeed was confirmed to ICC by his wife Naghmeh Abedini, who had received confirmation from the U.S. State Department in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Saeed Abedini, Jason Rezian, Amir Hekmati, and one unnamed American-Iranian have been released from prison and transferred to a safe zone in the region, as of the early morning of January 16, 2016, according to Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has represented the Abedini family.

Pastor Saeed was first detained in July, 2012 and then imprisoned on September 26, 2012. He was then convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for his Christian faith and activities as a Christian between 2000 and 2005.

Throughout his imprisonment Pastor Saeed has faced intense abuse and mistreatment from Iranian officials. The release of Pastor Saeed is an answer to prayer for millions of Christians around the world who have gathered for prayer vigils, protests, and signed petitions to advocate on behalf of their release.

Pastor Saeed became emblematic of not only the tensions between Iran and the United States, but also of the hostility of the Iranian regime towards Christianity in the Islamic Republic of Iran. More than 90 Christians currently remain in prison or are awaiting trial for charges related to their faith, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

ICC has worked alongside the Abedini family to advocate on their behalf and help to share their story, see the “Saving Naghmeh” article from February 2015.

Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East said, “We are rejoicing this morning with the Abedini family and Christians around the world over the release of Pastor Saeed from prison after more than three years solely for his faith. This is a huge day of celebration and the culmination of many long efforts of advocacy on his behalf. We are grateful for the efforts of the U.S. State Department and other entities involved in this case. We also rejoice with the global body of Christ who have prayed and spoken on Saeed’s behalf in so many ways. We urge the Iranian government to continue to take steps to not only release American citizens but to protect the basic rights of their own citizens. Iranians of all faiths should be free to believe as they will and meet with others who share those beliefs, including the very same beliefs for which Pastor Saeed was imprisoned. The efforts on behalf of persecuted Christians, both in Iran and around the world, have not stopped.”

 

For interviews, contact Olivia Miller, Press Manager: [email protected]

 

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.  For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.