Incoming U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry called for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, American citizen who was sentenced last week to eight years in an Iranian prison on charges of threatening Iran’s national security because of his Christian activities in Iran.
During the Senate Confirmation hearings yesterday, Kerry said that working for Abedini’s release would be one of his first priorities. “I, along with the U.S. government, condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him,” Kerry said. “The Department of State is in close contact with the Abedini family and is actively engaged on this case.”
Abedini, a Muslim convert to Christianity, and his wife worked in the early 2000s in the underground house church movement in Iran. In 2005, after facing persecution, Abedini emigrated to the United States and became a citizen in 2010.
Despite death threats resulting from his conversion to Christianity, Abedini frequently traveled to Iran to visit family and to build an orphanage. In July 2012, Iranian authorities confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, Abedini and his attorney were only permitted to attend one day of his trial.