Saeed Abedini Freed From Iranian Prison After Three Years

Profile: Saeed Abedini (02) feature

(PHOTO: ACLJ.ORG) U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini in this undated photo.

 Pastor Saeed Abedini has been released from prison in Iran after more than three years in captivity for his Christian faith.

Abedini, a U.S. citizen who has attracted high-profile advocates for his release including President Obama and members of Congress, was released on Saturday along with three other detained Americans: Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian; former Marine Amir Hekmati, and Nosratollah Khosavi-Roodsari, The Washington Post reported. Senior U.S. administration officials also confirmed the release of the four prisoners, according to CNN.

Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, who has tirelessly campaigned for his release since his imprisonment, said in a statement, “This has been an answer to prayer. This is a critical time for me and my family. We look forward to Saeed’s return and want to thank the millions of people who have stood with us in prayer during this most difficult time.”

Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, who has publicly advocated and prayed for Abedini’s release, posted on his Facebook Saturday: “American Pastor, Saeed Abedini along with the 3 other American prisoners have been released from Prison in Iran! This is an answered prayer! For years the hashtag has been #SaveSaeed Now, we can update it to #GodsavedSaeed”

The four Americans were released by Iran in exchange for at least six people imprisoned by the United States and also ahead of the nearing implementation of the July 2015 historic nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had previously said that Abedini would not be released until 19 Iranian prisoners held in the U.S. are granted their freedom.

American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the legal group representing Abedini’s wife and family, noted that they first heard news that Saeed was released from his prison cell to Iran’s Central Intelligence agency late Friday night. It was not until Saturday morning that they were able to confirm that the pastor was really freed.

“This is a major victory. We are incredibly grateful to the more than 1.1 million people who have joined us in fighting across the globe for Pastor Saeed’s freedom,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of ACLJ, in a statement.

“We’re delighted this day has finally arrived,” Sekulow continued. “We have worked and prayed that this day would finally arrive. And now, Pastor Saeed can return home.”

Pastor Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho, had served over three years of an eight year sentence in Iran for the supposed crime of endangering national security, but in reality it was because of his Christian faith. Abedini is a Muslim convert to Christianity and was in Iran working on building an orphanage when he was suddenly arrested. He had endured physical, emotional and psychological abuse during his imprisonment, according to his family, but resolutely stated that he would not renounce his Christian faith to escape punishment.

Naghmeh Abedini often shared that their two young children, aged 9 and 5, have missed their father terribly and it was difficult as a mother to endure her children’s pain. With news that Saeed has indeed been released, the family will finally be reunited after years apart.

“We are grateful for the release of Pastor Saeed. The prayers of the Body of Christ all over the world have been answered,” reflected Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This day of celebration should remind us to pray and work all the more for the multitudes still persecuted for their faith all over the world, including in Iran. We hope and long for the day when Iran, and nations like it, are free from those who wish to enslave the conscience at the point of a sword.”

January 16, 2016 | by Ethan Cole , Christian Post Reporter | Source: christianpost.com "Saeed Abedini Freed From Iranian Prison After Three Years"

Naghmeh Abedini Under Attack From Christians and Muslims

Profile: Saeed Abedini (02) feature

(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST) The Reverend Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, leads a group in prayer at a vigil for imprisoned Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini in Lafayette Square, Washington, September 25, 2014. Naghmeh Abedini (R), wife of Pastor Saeed, and their two children.

Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of American pastor Saeed Abedini who’s imprisoned in Iran, has said that she’s been receiving personal attacks from people who accuse her of not being a good mother for traveling so much; for her lack of formal Bible education, and for the clothes she wears.

Abedini said, however, that her faith in God has grown despite all the trials, and despite her great worry over her husband’s future. 

“The last three years have been very intense not only because of Saeed’s imprisonment, but also because of the attacks that have come from not only radical Muslims, but at times from those closest to me. I have been told many things of which some have been that I am not a good mom for traveling so much .. that how could I possibly share about Christ when I have not even been to a Bible School,” Abedini wrote in a Facebook message on Sunday.

“I have been criticized from what I wear to what I say to the way I parent. … I use to break to pieces after each attack and criticism, but recently the Lord has been speaking to me through the life of Moses. That I should use the attacks to keep me humble,” she continued.

Abedini reflected on the passages in Numbers 12 in the Bible that speak of Moses asking God to forgive those who cause such strife, and said that they have inspired her to have a “heart of compassion,” instead of a “heart of bitterness.”

Her husband is currently serving an eight year sentence in Iran after he was accused by Iranian authorities of endangering national security. Abedini and law groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, have said that the pastor is being punished for his Christian faith, however.

Abedini has been traveling across the country for speaking arrangements, and has shared her testimony before Congress and the U.N., urging world leaders to press Iran on its human rights record, and help free her husband.

The couple have two young children back at their home in Boise, Idaho.

In another Facebook post on Saturday, Abedini recalled the story about the two women who went to the Tomb of Jesus, as read in Mark 16, and said that much like those women, she is filled with worry about her husband.

“As I was reading, it struck me that these women were so worried about how they were going to roll away the stone. And yet when they reached there it was ALREADY ROLLED AWAY!!!” she wrote.

“The Lord spoke to my heart and showed the worries of the future that I am carrying with me … worries of in what condition I will receive Saeed and how our marriage will look like and in what condition the kids will have their father.”

She added that like the women who worried about the stone, people sometimes forget to put God in the formula.

“I have been a believer for almost 30 years, but only recently has the voice of my Shepherd been so clear and so different from all of the so many voices around me. I believe it is because of being in such a broken state and being so desperate for Him that we can be in a position to hear from the Lord,” she said.

Abedini posts regular updates on Facebook about the campaign to free her husband, and back in September held a 21 day fast to raise awareness for the case.

October 19, 2015 | by Stoyan Zaimov | Christian Post Reporter | Source: christianpost.com "Naghmeh Abedini Under Attack From Christians and Muslims"

Wife Testifies to Congress of a Family Torn Apart by Imprisonment in Iran

International Christian Concern (ICC) (01) feature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Naghmeh Abedini addresses Congress regarding her husband, Saeed Abedini, sentenced to eight years in prison for his faith in Jesus and activities as a Christian

06/02/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern)
International Christian Concern (ICC) continues to call for the release of Iranian American Pastor Saeed Abedini. He has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012 where he has suffered intense physical and psychological torture. As the United States and other Western countries are negotiating with Iran regarding its nuclear program, the continued confinement of Saeed, along with three other Americans, raises serious concerns about the trustworthiness of Iran’s negotiations. Prior to reaching any final agreement with Iran, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is investigating the continued detention of Aericans in Iran.

On July 28, 2012, Saeed Abedini was taken off a bus in northern Iran and held under house arrest until September 26, 2012 where he was taken to prison. Then, on the morning of January 27, 2013, Pastor Saeed stood before Judge Pir-Abassi in Tehran to receive his verdict from a show trial.He was convicted of “undermining national security” for his work among house churches in Iran from 2000-2005 ” Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day (January 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini’s trial,” State Department representative Darby Holladay reported shortly after the trial.

“My message is to show a glimpse of the pain we go through as a family torn apart,” Naghmeh told ICC prior to her address to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Saeed has now been imprisoned for 980 days in Iran. “My children have lost both their father to a prison in Iran, and also their mother as I travel to advocate on behalf of my husband,” Naghmeh said in her testimony. “It is hard to go back [to] them without solid answers, I hope this will be the time that we can bring Saeed home,” she continued.

What has sustained me through this and what I hope to share before Congress, Naghmeh told ICC, is “the message of the Gospel, of how a relationship with God (not religion) has gotten us through this.”

Saeed has faced intense abuse during his imprisonment. “He has been tortured, especially the first few months he was beaten badly when internal bleeding started,” Naghmeh testified. “He refuses to deny his Christian faith; they are putting him in and out of solitary to break him. I’m not worried just about his physical pain, but his psychological. They want, when they release Saeed, to release a very sick person,” Naghmeh said. “Time is of the essence.”

Also joining Naghmeh Abedini in the hearing were Mr. Ali Rezaian, Brother of Jason Rezaian, Ms. Sarah Hekmati, Sister of Amir Hekmati, and Mr. Daniel Levinson, Son of Robert Levinson, all testifying of the pain that they have experienced as family members of those detained in Iran.

Opening the hearing, Committee Chairman Edward Royce (R-CA), told them, “This Committee stands in solidarity with each of your families. We can’t imagine the living hell that your families are going through. And we share your anger and frustration with the position you have been put in. Immediately after our hearing today, the Committee will be passing a resolution that calls for Iran to release all detained U.S. citizens immediately and provide information it possesses regarding any who have disappeared within its borders.”

In House Resolution 233, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-MI), some 145 members of Congress have cosponsored the resolution calling on Iran to release these U.S. citizens will now proceed out of committee to the full House of Representatives, but even more important is that the Obama Administration and its negotiators take the lives of these citizens into account before pursuing other ends.

Organizations and departments across the world are advocating on behalf of Pastor Saeed. Secretary of State John Kerry first called for his release on March 22, 2013 and again on July 28, 2014 in addition to citing Saeed’s case in the U.S. State Department’s most recent report on international religious freedom. President Obama mentioned the case in his first phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but additional steps have not been taken, despite international pressure.

ICC’s Regional Manager, Todd Daniels, said, “We echo the call of Naghmeh Abedini before Congress that time is of the essence. Saeed Abedini is in prison solely for his Christian faith and languishes in an Iranian prison because he has refused to recant. The protection of American citizens ought to be of first priority in the concerns of the White House and it is essential that President Obama insists on the freedom of Saeed and the other Americans unjustly imprisoned. We continue to call for the Iranian regime to immediately release Saeed Abedini.

His only crime is his faith in Jesus Christ and that he met together with others who share that faith, activities that are legal under the Iranian constitution. President Rouhani can follow through on his promises of a new Iran by showing respect for the fundamental rights of all people, and the United States should demand this from them before further negotiations take place.”


For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East:
RM-ME@persecution.org

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference International Christian Concern (ICC) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-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.

International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
www.persecution.org | E-mail: icc@persecution.org

Media Contact:
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East
RM-ME@persecution.org

Obama Abandons Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other American citizens. A Decision that is ‘Despicable, Outrageous’

Iran: Obama Bad Deal (01)

 

Saeed Abedini-THUMBPresident Barack Obama’s administration has warned that it will veto a proposed amendment that would require the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other American citizens held prisoners in Iran before any final nuclear deal agreement is reached.

by Stoyan Zaimov
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini’s family, called the admittance “despicable” and “outrageous.””That is simply unbelievable. Refusing to discuss the Americans being held hostage by Iran at the bargaining table and rejecting any congressional attempt to make any deal with Iran contingent on the release of the Americans is unacceptable. It’s quite frankly appalling,” the law group wrote in an update on Thursday.

This is despicable. This is outrageous. And it is an insult to the captive Americans and their families,
it added.

The response is aimed at comments made by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to an ABC News reporter asking about the Corker Bill and amendments being debated by the U.S. Senate that would require Iran to release the imprisoned Americans before any sanctions are lifted.

obama-bad-deal-01

The U.S., Iran, and several other Western nations reached a historic deal at the beginning of April, which is yet to be finalized, but promises to lift international sanctions on Iran in exchange for restricting its nuclear program.

The ACLJ has seen the negotiations as a vital opportunity for Obama to press Iran for the release of the Americans. The law group, which represents Abedini’s wife and two children in the U.S., has said that the pastor has been imprisoned for over two years and a half because of his Christian faith.

Obama has spoken out on a number of occasions for Abedini’s release, and visited with the pastor’s family in Boise, Idaho, earlier this year to tell them that the pastor’s freedom remains a “top priority” for his administration.

Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor’s wife, has said:

“Our government must not forget that Saeed is not being held by the reformists with whom they negotiate but by radical hardliners who oppose what he represents – a Christian convert and an U.S. citizen”

She added:

We cannot leave my husband’s fate in the hands of these radicals. I implore our government to remember the urgency of bringing Saeed home to our family.

The ACLJ has argued, however, that the evidence suggests Obama’s promises cannot be trusted.

obama-bad-deal-01“The Obama administration has refused to ask for the release of Pastor Saeed and the other imprisoned Americans at the bargaining table. And that is a tremendous mistake,” ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow wrote last week.

Over 190,000 people have signed an online petition started by the law group insisting that there should be no nuclear deal with Iran unless Abedini is freed.

by Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter | May 1, 2015  |Original Source: christianpost.com  "Obama Abandons Pastor Abedini, Would Veto Bill That Requires Iran Release Him for Nuke Deal Approval; ACLJ Calls Decision 'Despicable, Outrageous'"

Two Years After His Conviction, We Are Still Waiting for Saeed

International Christian Concern (ICC) (01) feature
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Media Contact:
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East
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Two Years After His Conviction, We Are Still Waiting for Saeed

ICC Calls for the Release of Saeed Abedini on the Anniversary of His Conviction

1/27/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) is partnering with Christians across the world to call out for the release of American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini. January 27, 2015 marks the two year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s conviction for allegedly undermining the national security of Iran through his involvement in house churches. On this date, he was condemned to a sentence of eight years in Iran’s Evin Prison which the American Center for Law and Justice has referred to as a “virtual death sentence.”
On the morning of January 27, 2013, Pastor Saeed stood before Judge Pir-Abassi in Tehran to receive his verdict. Shortly after the trial, State Department representative Darby Holladay reported that, “Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day (January 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini’s trial.”
Accounts of the abuse that Pastor Saeed has faced during his imprisonment to date have been numerous and disturbing. Physical abuse received in prison caused internal injuries that forced him to be hospitalized, but even still he did not receive the needed care. In a letter written to his family, Saeed stated that his nurses refused to touch him or give him “pain medication that they would give other prisoners because [he] was unclean” due to his faith. He reports that there were nights that he was unable to sleep due to the intense pain and that he did not recognize his own appearance when he saw a mirror within the prison hospital.
Despite the fact that the Iranian government reported in January of 2013 that Pastor Saeed would be released, the empty promises have yet to come to fruition. Early in his detainment, after the regime said he would be released soon, His wife, Naghmeh Abedini said that “The promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government.” She went on to say that she will “now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”
Organizations and departments across the world are advocating on behalf of Pastor Saeed. Secretary of State John Kerry first called for his release on March 22, 2013 and again on July 28, 2014 in addition to citing Saeed’s case in the U.S. State Department’s most recent report on international religious freedom. President Obama mentioned the case in his first phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but additional steps have not been taken, despite international pressure. The UN Working Group has documented Saeed’s case closely and concluded that “the adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Abedini and accord him an enforceable right to compensation.” On September 16, 2014, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report condemning the imprisonment and calling Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Saeed.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Todd Daniels, said, 
“We continue to call for the Iranian regime to immediately release Saeed Abedini. His only crime is his faith in Jesus Christ and that he met together with others who share that faith, activities that are legal under the Iranian constitution. Furthermore, his arrest came after the Iranian government had given him permission to travel to Iran to carry out humanitarian work in the country that he loves. It was while doing this work of establishing an orphanage that he was arrested, and two years ago today convicted of crimes against the state. He continues to languish behind bars and his wife, two young children, and family remain heart-broken as he is held as a violent criminal serving an eight year prison sentence..”
For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East:

 

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You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference International Christian Concern (ICC) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-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.

Iranian prison Ps. Saeed Abedini

Profile: Saeed Abedini (02) feature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASETwo Years, but Still Praying for Pastor Saeed
 
ICC to Join Thousands in Calling for the Release of Imprisoned American-Iranian Pastor
09/19/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern– International Christian Concern (ICC) joins with thousands of Christians around the world to call for the release of American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini. September 26, 2014 marks two years since Pastor Saeed was taken to an Iranian prison. He is serving an eight year prison sentence for his work among Iranian house churches in the early 2000s. One week from today, thousands are expected to gather at more than 460 prayer vigils in over 30 countries spanning the globe to mark the two year anniversary of his imprisonment.
“Saeed was encouraged to know that so many cities and countries are gathering for a prayer vigil to remember him and the persecuted church on September 26,” Naghmeh, Saeed’s mother, said following her recent visit mother to the prison where he is being held in Karaj, Iran. “Thank you for all who are standing with us and the persecuted church. Thank you for bringing a smile to Saeed’s face during such hard times.”
Since his imprisonment, Saeed has been subjected to long periods of solitary confinement and physical abuse. He is believed to be suffering from internal injuries that continue to go untreated and are causing him severe pain.

Saeed’s case has been raised before numerous international groups including the UN Human Rights Council which has released a report documenting his arbitrary detention. “The report details how Pastor Saeed was detained in Iran while finalizing the details of a government approved orphanage in July 2012, was subjected to a sham trial on charges related solely to his religious beliefs, and has spent nearly two years behind bars, enduring periods of solitary confinement and brutal beatings, because of his Christian faith,” Jordan Sekulow of theAmerican Center for Law and Justice said of the report adopted by the working group on Arbitrary Detention at its August 2013 session.

On September 27, 2013, one day after prayer vigils marking the first anniversary of Saeed’s imprisonment, President Obama raised Saeed’s case in his historic phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian President will again be in the United States next week for the UN General Assembly. While no meeting is currently planned for the two presidents, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, presenting an opportunity for the Secretary to directly address Saeed’s case with his Iranian counterpart.

As U.S. and Iranian officials continue to negotiate regarding Iran’s nuclear program ahead of the November 24 deadline, the freedom of American citizens who are unjustly imprisoned in Iran should certainly be part of the concerns for the United States.

For times and locations of the prayer vigils visit: www.beheardproject.com

Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We are privileged to join with thousands who will exercise their fundamental right of religious freedom by gathering to pray together, an act that, for Saeed Abedini and many more in Iran and around the world, would put them in prison. In a time when Christians around the world are facing increasing persecution, the church cannot remain silent. We urge Christians across the United States and around the world to gather and raise their voices to God on behalf of Saeed and others facing similar abuses and to raise their voice before world leaders and call for the freedom for all people to worship freely without fear of imprisonment or persecution. For Secretary Kerry, we urge him to directly address Saeed’s case with Minister Zarif and ask him to follow through on offers of clemency that he said may be possible for Saeed.”

For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East:
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You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference International Christian Concern (ICC) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-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.
 
International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
Media Contact:
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East