American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Iranian lawyer was finally permitted to see Saeed’s court file. What he discovered is that Pastor Saeed’s trial has been set for January 21, 2013, one week from today.
It is an outrage that Pastor Saeed’s trial date and charge against him would be withheld from his legal counsel until less than a week before the trial itself. Not only is Iran violating Pastor Saeed’s fundamental freedom of religion, but it is making a mockery of “justice.”
Even more disturbing, the only charge that Pastor Saeed’s attorney was able to decipher dates back to the year 2000, the year that Pastor Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity. The supposed charge levied against him, actions against the national security of Iran, is a typical charge brought by the radical Islamic regime against those it wishes to persecute for their religious beliefs. His court file indicated that this national security charge was directly related to his work starting a house church movement in Iran.
As we know from Pastor Youcef’s case, who was also involved in house churches, charges related to apostasy (converting to Christianity) can carry the death sentence in Iran. This coupled with the fact that, as Saeed stated in his recent letter, he has been told that he “will hang” for his “faith in Jesus” and that his case has been turned over to one of Iran’s notorious “hanging judges” clearly indicates that Pastor Saeed is in grave danger.
In addition to the national security charge brought against Pastor Saeed for his religious beliefs, the Islamic regime has also confiscated an Iranian bank account which included 130 million Toman (about $105,000) that had been donated by an Iranian toward Saeed’s efforts to build an orphanage. Pastor Saeed was arrested in September, while he was traveling to Iran to oversee efforts to set up an orphanage for Iranian children in need.
Iran’s continued crack down on religious minorities cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged by the international community. The U.S. State Department has begun to engage this issue noting its “serious concerns” about Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment. However, we urge the State Department to take immediate and direct action to intervene on this American citizen’s behalf who suffers merely because of his Christian faith.
As more individuals and governments around the world take notice of Pastor Saeed’s case, the pressure on Iran to release him and stop violating religious liberty will increase. Action must be taken quickly as the Iranian regime is clearly bent on rushing through a sham trial that leaves counsel unprepared and in the dark about the nature of the charges against their client and exacerbates the already horrific violations of Pastor Saeed’s human rights.
Stand with the ACLJ and tens of thousands of others in defense of this American citizen and pastor by signing our petition to save Pastor Saeed today. Also, please call your Representative and Senators immediately and ask them to sign on to Representative Aderholt’s letter in the House and Senator Risch’s letter in the Senate calling for Pastor Saeed’s freedom. You can find your Members of Congress here.