An American pastor who was raised in Iran but granted U.S. citizenship is currently being detained in Iran’s most horrifying prison, Fox News reports. A place where political dissidents tend to end up, the prisoners are often scooped up without legitimate cause, before being beaten (and if you’re a woman, raped) repeatedly.
He has awaited “trial” since late September, but like with former U.S. Marine Jon Hammar– who has been imprisoned in Mexico since August on what his parents describe as “trumped-up” charges– the U.S. State Department has made no real progress in rescuing him.
32-year-old Rev. Saeed Abedini is a convert to Christianity, making him an apostate and therefore marked for death by the hardliners in Iran. However, after he had an issue at the airport in 2009– where he was detained and interrogated– Abedini signed an agreement with the Iranian government that if he did not try to spread Christianity in the country, they would leave him alone.
Abedini’s wife Naghmeh told Fox News that he has held up his end of the bargain, and has been to Iran 9 times in the intervening years without significant problems. Before 2009, he worked ardently to establish places where converts could pray in safety, but on his trips back now, he is tending a humanitarian effort to build an orphanage.
Fox News continues:
After a short visit to a nearby country, Abedini was traveling back into Iran to catch his flight back to the U.S. when members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard stopped his bus near the Turkey-Iran border and pulled Abedini from the bus, confiscating his passports and subjecting him to intense interrogation, according to his wife.
After weeks under house arrest and many calls to Iran’s passport control office about the status of his confiscated passport, Abedini was told that his case has been referred to the Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian government’s elite military force.
On Sept. 26, five men kicked open the door of Abedini’s parents’ residence in Tehran where they collected all communications devices and arrested him while placing the rest of his family members, who are also Christians converts from Islam, under house arrest.
The family remains under house arrest, according to Naghmeh. [Emphasis added]
Abedini hasn’t been formally charged, but his “offense” is something along the lines of espionage and threatening national security, his wife says.
“When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country,” she told Fox News.
Back when Abedini was working on spreading Christianity, his rapid success is believed to have posted a threat to the theocratic regime.
“It was just growing so fast. They see the underground churches as a threat and they see Christianity as a tool from the West to undermine them,” Naghmeh added.
And Abedini has a remarkable history– his wife says Christianity actually “saved his life.” When he was still in high school, Abedini was taken to a mosque and trained to be a suicide bomber. The more he trained– understandably– the more depressed he became.
Fox News continues:
The Iranian government offered bail in the amount of 500 million toman, or roughly $410,000. Abedini’s family has prepared the bail documents many times already but have not been successful in having it accepted or approved, they say.
Just this week they prepared yet again the bail documents but were told they were not going to be accepted. When they inquired, they were told, “Boro Gomsho!” or get lost.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which worked tirelessly to free pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faced a similar situation, is taking Abedini’s case.
“You have a situation of arbitrary detention here. Iran is violating its own constitution and its international obligations. As citizens of the world, we need to wake up to these violations. Iran needs to be exposed for its violation of these laws,” the ACLJ’s Tiffany Barrans said.
Fox News adds that, while the family tried to keep the matter under wraps for Abedini’s safety before, they are relieved that the ACLJ will now be putting increased pressure on the government, members of Congress, and the United Nations.
National Review Online says everything in its conclusion: “Simply put, Iran cannot be permitted to imprison and abuse American citizens.”