Congress Makes Strong Bipartisan Call for Pastor Saeed’s Release


Nathanael Bennett


February 14, 2013

3 min read

Middle East

As Pastor Saeed’s story continues to sweep the globe, and as we at the ACLJ prepare to take his case to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the U.S. Congress has again spoken out forcefully in support of Saeed’s immediate release.

This morning, 84 Members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives announced a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to “exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini’s immediate release.”  The letter rightfully states that “[a]s a U.S. citizen, Mr. Abedini deserves nothing less than the exercising of every diplomatic tool of the U.S. government to defend his basic human rights.”

From the beginning, we have stressed that the fundamental human right to religious freedom transcends political party or ideology, and that people of goodwill from around the world should stand and call for Pastor Saeed’s release.  With today’s letter, the U.S. Congress has answered that call and crossed party lines to demonstrate solidarity with the Abedini family.

The ACLJ is extremely grateful to these 84 Members for taking a personal interest in Pastor Saeed’s case, and we want to say a special thank you to the four co-leaders of the letter: Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).

In addition to this important letter, several of these Members made written statements in support of Pastor Saeed, and Congressman Trent Franks (who is also the co-Chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus) released this personal video plea for Saeed’s release (above).

Today’s congressional letter and statements build on the momentum that so many of you have helped create as you’ve signed our petition for Saeed and advocated for his release.  Similar to what I am sure many of you have felt, I confess frustration that Saeed remains in prison and unable to see or even speak to his family.  However, I am reminded that we are to not grow weary in well doing, and that our mandate to defend the innocent continues.

So today, it is time for all of us to follow Congress’ lead and re-double our efforts to bring Saeed home.  If you have not already signed our petition, please do so today.  If you have already signed the petition, please choose one or more of these additional ways that you can stand for Saeed.  Together, we will welcome Saeed home.

Update: Earlier this week, Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran was able to briefly see him and confirm he is still alive.

The full list of 84 U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives who signed the letter to Secretary Kerry is below:

Mark Kirk
Frank Lautenberg
Kelly Ayotte
Roy Blunt
John Boozman
Richard Burr
Benjamin L. Cardin
Mike Crapo
Ted Cruz
Deb Fischer
Lindsey Graham
Dean Heller
Mike Johanns
Tim Kaine
Mary Landrieu
Barbara Mikulski
Jerry Moran
Rob Portman
James Risch
Pat Roberts
Jeff Sessions
Ron Wyden

Trent Franks
Henry Waxman
Robert Aderholt
Michelle Bachmann
Spencer Bachus
Andy Barr
Gus Bilirakis
Sanford Bishop
Kevin Brady
Mo Brooks
Julia Brownley
Michael Capuano
Emmanuel Cleaver
Doug Collins
Michael Conaway
Tom Cotton
Steve Daines
Ted Deutch
Jeff Duncan
John Fleming
J. Randy Forbes
Virginia Foxx
Trey Gowdy
Ralph Hall
Gregg Harper
Andy Harris
Vicky Hartzler
Bill Huizenga
Randall Hultgren
Jim Jordan
Mike Kelly
Doug Lamborn
James Lankford
Kenny Marchant
James McGovern
Grace Meng
Jeff Miller
Jim Moran
Randy Neugebauer
Steven Palazzo
Steve Pearce
Robert Pittenger
Joe Pitts
Ted Poe
Mike Pompeo
Phil Roe
Peter Roskam
Jan Schakowsky
David Schweikert
Austin Scott
Carol Shea-Porter
Brad Sherman
Mike Simpson
Albio Sires
Adam Smith
Lamar Smith
Chris Stewart
Greg Walden
Randy Weber
Daniel Webster
Lynn Westmoreland
Frank Wolf