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Secretary Kerry’s Reengagement on American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Case Welcomed – Time for President Obama to Engage

American Pastor Saeed Abedini

Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement urging Iran to allow American Pastor Saeed Abedini to return to his family – to those who love him and miss him – is an important diplomatic step in the effort for his freedom.

We welcome this renewed involvement and effort initiated by Secretary Kerry to bring Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen imprisoned for his faith – back home to his wife and young children.

Secretary Kerry’s statement comes just days after the Iranian judiciary denied Pastor Saeed’s appeal and affirmed his conviction and 8-year prison sentence.

This statement from America’s top diplomat reaffirms that despite the devastating legal decision in Iran, the fight for Pastor Saeed’s freedom is far from over.

It is a critical time to reengage Iran, to use all diplomatic avenues to secure his release.

We urge the State Department to follow Secretary Kerry’s lead and redouble all efforts for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.  As a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran merely because of his Christian faith, the U.S. Government – his government – should be doing everything in its power to bring this innocent man home to his family.

While Secretary Kerry’s statement puts Pastor Saeed’s case back in the diplomatic spotlight, paper statements alone will not bring about his freedom.  It is time for the President of the United States to engage his case.  When a U.S. citizen – a Christian Pastor – is illegally imprisoned in a foreign land, it should be a top priority of the President to bring him home.

Pastor Saeed’s case deserves the attention and commitment of President Obama who can raise Pastor Saeed’s case to the highest level of international diplomacy.  We call on President Obama to elevate  Senator Kerry’s statements and urge Iran to allow Pastor Saeed to return home to his family.

We represent Pastor Saeed’s wife Naghmeh. And she, too, is urging that her husband’s case and religious freedom be a top priority for this Administration.  She stated:

I am very thankful for the statement that Secretary of State John Kerry made to Iran regarding Saeed's immediate return to our family, and I hope that the State Department is truly willing explore all avenues to secure my husband’s release. While, I am pleased with this development, I still expect my president, President Obama, who has remained silent thus far, to speak out on this very critical human rights issue and let the Iranian government and the world know that religious freedom is still a top priority for our government. President Obama must demonstrate that America will not stay silent in the face of religious persecution, nor will it let an American citizen waste away in an Iranian prison simply because he chose to follow Jesus.

As the fight for Pastor Saeed’s freedom continues, two key portions of Secretary Kerry’s statement show the direction we are taking moving forward.

Now that Pastor Saeed’s judicial appeals have been exhausted, the focus turns to the leadership of Iran.  A decision to release Pastor Saeed will come from the top.  Secretary Kerry noted the importance of reaching out directly to the new president of Iran: “President Rouhani has shared in his speeches and interviews over the past few months his hope and vision to improve the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relationship with the world.”

The ACLJ is just days away from launching a new effort for Pastor Saeed focusing on international pressure on the leadership of Iran to release Pastor Saeed.  In the coming days, we will be announcing how you can take direct action with the leadership of Iran for Pastor Saeed.  We know the pressure of individuals around the world can make an incredible difference in these cases, just at it did in the case of Pastor Youcef who was freed nearly one year ago.

The second key landmark Secretary Kerry mentioned is the upcoming anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment.  Secretary Kerry stated, “On September 26, Mr. Abedini will have spent a year in detention in Iran.”

Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, is organizing a nationwide prayer vigil for Pastor Saeed on that day, September 26th.  There are vigils scheduled in nearly every state in America and numerous foreign cities, with more being added each day.  Learn more and about how you can participate in a vigil for Pastor Saeed near you at SaveSaeed.org.

Because of the support of hundreds of thousands of people, Pastor Saeed’s case has gained immense international media and diplomatic attention.  It is time to focus the pressure on the Iranian regime to free this innocent U.S. citizen.  He must be allowed to return home to his family that loves him and misses him.

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