Wednesday, 30 July 2014
NEWS:: John Kerry Spotlights Pastor Saeed Abedini's Imprisonment; Promises to Work for Release
The plight of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini was highlighted
by Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks for the State
Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom,
with Kerry promising to continue to work for the pastor's
"In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains
imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years
behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will
continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for
it," Kerry stated .
"And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious
minority communities under assault and in danger around the
world, from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baha'is to Ahmadi
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents
Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children in the
U.S., said that it is "thankful" for Kerry's remarks. The law group
has been campaigning for the release of the pastor, who has
faced beatings and a lack of medical care while in Iranian
In May, Abedini was severely beaten while being transferred
from a hospital back to Rajai Shahr prison, causing great
distress for his family.
"This is an extremely disappointing development - one that
breaks my heart," Naghmeh Abedini said at the time. "Our family
is deeply saddened and we continue to pray for Saeed - for his
safety and his release. We are very grateful that so many people
around the world continue to pray for Saeed."
The report, which is a yearly update for Congress on the state of
religious freedom across the globe, notes that the U.S. has no
diplomatic relations with Iran, and has limited opportunity to
raise religious freedom concerns with top officials.
"On several occasions, however, senior U.S. government
officials, including the President and the Secretary of State,
raised directly with their Iranian counterparts the case of
Christian pastor and dual U.S.-Iranian national Saeed Abedini,
who is being held on charges related to his religious beliefs, and
called for his release," the report states.
"The Department of State also publicly called for the release of
Mr. Abedini and other prisoners held on religious grounds."
A prayer vigil is planned for September 26, which will mark the
two-year anniversary of the American citizen's imprisonment in
Iran. Hundreds of cities around the world are preparing to hold
such a vigil, with further information available on the ACLJ
Nearly 287,000 people have also signed a petition calling for his