UPDATE: Freed January 2016
We want to draw your attention and your prayers to Saeed Abedini. Pastor Saeed was arrested in July of 2012 and charged with a “security related offense.” He has since been sentenced to 8 years in one of Iran’s most deadly and hostile prisons, simply for his belief in Christianity.
Iran has a long-standing reputation for being one of the harshest and worst places for religious minorities. Any teaching other than the Islam favored by the elite Islamic clergy is seen as a threat. Religious minorities such as Christians and Baha’is are targeted the most. Many are taken and tortured for their non-conformity. Torture, humiliation and death threats are some of the many tactics used to force conversion. Saeed’s case is unique because he is an American citizen.
Iranian born Pastor Saeed was raised in a Muslim home and became a Christian at the age of 20 while searching for faith. After finding his faith in Christianity, Saeed helped build a network of 100 churches in Iran with other Iranian Christians.
In 2004, he married his wife Naghmeh and left Iran in 2005. Naghmeh left Iran at age nine and met Saeed on one of her return visits. Saeed and his wife love the US and chose to raise their two children in the US. He has a church in Idaho, to which he is very committed. They continue to pray for Saeed and his family as they go through this struggle.
Saeed and his wife also have a deep love for the people of Iran. On a trip back to Iran in 2009, Saeed was arrested at the airport before he was to return to the US. In prison he received death threats for his professed Christian faith. He was only released after signing an agreement with the government that they would not charge him for his previous Christian activities and he would be allowed to travel in and out of Iran so long as he did not participate in official house church activities.
Saeed ceased all official house church activities and successfully traveled between the US and Iran nine times. On Saeed’s ninth visit, he was arrested for threatening national security. As we know, the real cause of his arrest and imprisonment is his faith in Christianity and his constant refusal to deny it. He was tortured on numerous occasions while awaiting trial in prison. During his torture sessions in Evin Prison he was threatened specifically for his faith.
Immediately after his arrest, our friends at ACLJ began working behind the scenes on his case. We pressed the US government to advocate behind the sense in hopes Saeed would be released before his trail. However, the US government did not effectively intervene for this US citizen and his case went to trail.
Monday January 21 2013 his case was transferred to a judge notorious for heavy sentences and human rights abuses and the trial resulted in an 8-year sentence in Evin Prison. The evidence judge Pir- Abbassi used to convict Saeed was his Christian activities during the early 2000’s. During the early 2000’s, Iran under President Khatami did not view houses churches as a threat.
Although, Saeed did not receive the death penalty, Elvin Prison can be a death sentence in itself. Evin Prison is notorious for its brutality. His life is at risk daily from the torture both the prison guards and other inmates give him for his faith and his refusal to deny it.
We are asking the United Nations, European Union, and Council of Europe to mobilize their resources to require Iran to honor its treaties and its constitution. Action must be taken now. Each day of inaction equals another day in the toxic and deadly environment of Elvin Prison for Saeed.
To help please sign the petition for Pastor Saeed and keep him and his family in your prayers.