An American pastor, jailed in Iran on charges of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Christian pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced in Tehran by the man known as the “hanging judge.” He had been found guilty of threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches.
“This is a real travesty – a mockery of justice,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice — and the family’s attorney. “Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights. We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed.”
So far, President Obama and the State Dept. have remained silent on the imprisonment of the Christian pastor. Their silence has troubled many American Christians.
“Here’s the troubling reality,” Sekulow said. “We have a U.S. citizen who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran. Pastor Saeed is likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime simply because of his Christian faith.
The 34-year-old father of two denied evangelizing in Iran and claims he had only returned to his native land to help establish an orphanage.
The exact crimes he is accused of only became public on Monday, when the prosecutor outlined charges that Abedini undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and that he was attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.
According to the ACLJ, upon hearing the news of her husband’s sentence, Naghmeh Abedini said: “The promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government. These false hopes amount to psychological torture. You don’t want to trust them, but they build a glimmer hope before the crushing blow. With today’s development I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”
Although the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said earlier this month that the administration was troubled over Abedini’s imprisonment.
“We remain troubled by the case of U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini, who was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges relating to his religious beliefs,” Vietor said. “We call upon Iranian authorities to release him immediately.”
With reporting from Fox News and Associated Press