Pastor Saeed Abedini faces grave new danger

In a disturbing turn of events, an American Pastor imprisoned in Iran has been transferred to one of the deadliest … Continued

In a disturbing turn of events, an American Pastor imprisoned in Iran has been transferred to one of the deadliest prisons in the world, placing this U.S. citizen’s life in grave danger.

We have written before about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini who has been sentence to eight years in prison because of his Christian faith. The ACLJ represents the Abedini family in the U.S.

For more than a year, the 33-year-old pastor, husband and father of two has been incarcerated in Evin Prison, one of the worst prisons in the world.  He has endured mental and physical torment – including beatings at the hands of his captors that resulted in internal bleeding and other serious injuries.

As hard as it is to imagine, his transfer from Evin in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj puts him in even more danger. Rajai Shahr is known in the international human rights community as the prison where prisoners of conscience are sent to disappear.

Pastor Saeed went from sharing a prison cell with political prisoners to being surrounded by ruthless murderers.  Prisoners who the Islamic Republic of Iran deems as inconvenient are often murdered or never heard from again after being sent to this prison.

Though months ago such a move was threatened as Iranian officials pressured Pastor Saeed to recant his faith in Christ and convert to Islam, the transfer, which occurred Sunday, was abrupt and unexplained.

Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran who had been regularly able to visit him once a week was told he had inexplicably been transferred and was denied the ability to see him.

This deeply disturbing development not only cuts him off from contact with his Iranian family but poses a severe danger to Pastor Saeed’s life.

One diplomat described Rajai Shahr Prison in these unmistakably grave terms:

Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence.

There is no more critical time in the fight for this U.S. citizen’s freedom – his very life – than now.

President Obama boldly took the opportunity to bring up Pastor Saeed’s name in the first phone conversation between our respective presidents since 1979.

There was hope that this conversation would lead to his immediate release as Iran sought to show the world that it was changing, as Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani asserted himself as a moderate.

However, this week opponents of freedom took the streets for a “Grand Day of Death to America” on the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979.

It is critical that President Obama renew his efforts with Iran and take immediate and decisive diplomatic action.  Hope is far from extinguished.

Already a bipartisan resolution has been introduced in the Senate.  Sponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the resolution calls “on the Government of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini and all other individuals detained on account of their religious beliefs.”

The U.S. State Department too has expressed concern about this disturbing turn of events:

We are aware of and concerned about reports that U.S.-Iranian citizen Saeed Abedini, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs, has been transferred from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr prison . . . . We also repeat our call on Iran to release Mr. Abedini . . . .

The cause of religious liberty and the case of Pastor Saeed’s wrongful imprisonment crosses all religious, cultural, and political boundaries.  It is the fight for the most basic of human rights.

Now more than ever it is critical for our government do everything within its power to bring this U.S. citizen, this religious hostage in Iran, home to his family.

The words of Pastor Saeed’s wife Nagheh are poignant:

The news of Saeed’s transfer to this prison is most difficult to bear. He is truly defenseless in this prison – defenseless from the abuse and violence of other prisoners – defenseless from a radical government that continues to violate his rights. I am grateful for everything our government has done in the past – but now during this most dangerous and uncertain time – I once again call on our government – including President Obama – to fight for Saeed’s life and his freedom – to fight for this U.S. citizen.

As we urge renewed action from our nations leaders, tens of thousands of Americans are signing an urgent petition to President Obama at BeHeardProject.com asking him to use every effort to fight for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.

Now is the time to pray and to have our voices heard.  We must not allow this U.S. citizen to be forgotten.


Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.

  • mitchw7959

    I’ll proffer a deal with Sekulow. We will pray, and raise our voices in protest against this single instance of anti-Christian injustice, when ACLJ and the Family Research Council stands shoulders to shoulder against governmental repression and extra-judicial mob violence against the LGBT communities in Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Jamaica, and Russia. Until then, fundies, bugger off.

  • mitchw7959

    I’ll proffer a deal with Sekulow. We will pray, and raise our voices in protest against this single instance of anti-Christian injustice, when ACLJ and the Family Research Council stands shoulders to shoulder against governmental repression and extra-judicial mob violence against the LGBT communities in Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Jamaica, and Russia. Until then, fundies, bugger off.

  • Hermit1951

    Compelling article. File it with the millions of other atrocities being committed daily in the name of jihad. It is unfortunate that you would point fingers at the Administration and the State Department for not doing their due diligence. Short of launching an attack, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, what would you have them do. Christians (especially in that part of the world) have been imprisioned, persecuted and crucified since the beginning of Christianity. The best thing you can do is put down your animosity and come to the reality that satan is alive and doing well, and the only way to defeat his is to defeat his human counterparts. The same way he is attempting to defeat Gods human counterparts (aka Christians).

  • Hermit1951

    Compelling article. File it with the millions of other atrocities being committed daily in the name of jihad. It is unfortunate that you would point fingers at the Administration and the State Department for not doing their due diligence. Short of launching an attack, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, what would you have them do. Christians (especially in that part of the world) have been imprisioned, persecuted and crucified since the beginning of Christianity. The best thing you can do is put down your animosity and come to the reality that satan is alive and doing well, and the only way to defeat his is to defeat his human counterparts. The same way he is attempting to defeat Gods human counterparts (aka Christians).

  • allinthistogether

    Hermit1951,
    You neglected to mention the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that have been tortured and killed by Christians since the beginning of Islam.Suggesting that Christian’s are God’s human counterparts and Muslims are Satan’s counterparts is exactly what the core of the problem is. Both sides in this religious power struggle, and especially the fundamentalists (one of whom you appear in your writing to be) are claiming to know for certain that God is on their side, and that their violence is justified by their alignment with God’s wishes. Christians are no different from Muslims (or other “true believers”) in this regard. If there is a God, especially one worth worshiping, it is not encouraging religious violence. If there is a satan, show us tangible proof. Otherwise, iplease accept that this is simply human-on-human violence and in essence a struggle for power over the future. Religion is the vehicle for that violence.

  • allinthistogether

    Hermit1951,
    You neglected to mention the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that have been tortured and killed by Christians since the beginning of Islam.Suggesting that Christian’s are God’s human counterparts and Muslims are Satan’s counterparts is exactly what the core of the problem is. Both sides in this religious power struggle, and especially the fundamentalists (one of whom you appear in your writing to be) are claiming to know for certain that God is on their side, and that their violence is justified by their alignment with God’s wishes. Christians are no different from Muslims (or other “true believers”) in this regard. If there is a God, especially one worth worshiping, it is not encouraging religious violence. If there is a satan, show us tangible proof. Otherwise, iplease accept that this is simply human-on-human violence and in essence a struggle for power over the future. Religion is the vehicle for that violence.

  • yusam24

    You are completely correct allinthistogether. Christians are no different than Muslims. ALL of us have failed, and to say that you have never failed is a lie (because we aren’t God). Even though we say we don’t kill, we still kill with our words. We ALL are horrible people, and that makes us ALL the same. We are all people in need of someone to save us from our depravity because we are ALL bad. So I am on the same boat as you! We have all sucked horrible at one point in time…so let’s all relate and love folks?
    The truth is Christians are supposed to believe that Jesus is the only perfect person that ever lived on the face of the planet.
    Christians really want to follow this entity of “Jesus” because they believe that He is perfect not because they think they are more perfect than anybody else…. in fact I believe it is totally the opposite, they believe that they are sooo infinitely disgusting and horrible there is no other hope than to follow a God who is literally able to show mercy and forgiveness towards them…
    The only God that they know who can do this is Jesus. They believe that Jesus “rescued” them from their depravity…so Jesus becomes their only hope for them. They believe that by following the example of Jesus, they can do less horrible things. This is what it means to be a Christian.

  • yusam24

    You are completely correct allinthistogether. Christians are no different than Muslims. ALL of us have failed, and to say that you have never failed is a lie (because we aren’t God). Even though we say we don’t kill, we still kill with our words. We ALL are horrible people, and that makes us ALL the same. We are all people in need of someone to save us from our depravity because we are ALL bad. So I am on the same boat as you! We have all sucked horrible at one point in time…so let’s all relate and love folks?
    The truth is Christians are supposed to believe that Jesus is the only perfect person that ever lived on the face of the planet.
    Christians really want to follow this entity of “Jesus” because they believe that He is perfect not because they think they are more perfect than anybody else…. in fact I believe it is totally the opposite, they believe that they are sooo infinitely disgusting and horrible there is no other hope than to follow a God who is literally able to show mercy and forgiveness towards them…
    The only God that they know who can do this is Jesus. They believe that Jesus “rescued” them from their depravity…so Jesus becomes their only hope for them. They believe that by following the example of Jesus, they can do less horrible things. This is what it means to be a Christian.

  • Philip Harris

    Attention to the world leaders, including Iran; the time has come for all man and woman who has a conscious to speak out and take action for Pastor Saeed release from prison. As a human we are given choices to love and care for one another… however, to be charged and condemn for one’s faith has been seen over and over throughout history and has been considered senseless. We cannot afford to let history repeat itself; I believe that Iran has leaders that agree that enough is enough and to do what’s right is more important than religious differences. Be that great President Hassan Rouhani, that when history speaks of you they will remember you as a leader that can lead a great country with great people to prosperity and peace.

  • Philip Harris

    Attention to the world leaders, including Iran; the time has come for all man and woman who has a conscious to speak out and take action for Pastor Saeed release from prison. As a human we are given choices to love and care for one another… however, to be charged and condemn for one’s faith has been seen over and over throughout history and has been considered senseless. We cannot afford to let history repeat itself; I believe that Iran has leaders that agree that enough is enough and to do what’s right is more important than religious differences. Be that great President Hassan Rouhani, that when history speaks of you they will remember you as a leader that can lead a great country with great people to prosperity and peace.

  • Dick Ramsey

    when this happens no one is free…

  • Dick Ramsey

    when this happens no one is free…

  • CHILD OF GOD

    We live in a world not built by the hands of man, yet man spend so much time destroying God’s Work, and even each other. At this time, let each man call on THE LORD JESUS who is the CHRIST, so that HE can due the work that is required to obtain order. As for this man, Pastor Saeed Abedini, I pray and ask that you join me in this prayer for THE MOST HOLY GOD to intervene and deliver. I pray that this man PRAISE GOD as Paul and Silas to bring about SALVATION to all the prisoners that are considered the worst of man. I pray that Jesus join him as He joined the 3 Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. I pray the GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, and GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT do an AWESOME work as the world watch! PLEASE FATHER TAKE CONTROL OF THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION SO THAT THE WORLD WILL SEE YOU IN ACTION AS WE NEVER HAVE BEFORE. I call down HEAVEN AND PLEAD FOR HELP…IN THE NAME OF JESUS. I even pray for those that persecute Pastor Saeed Abedini, so that the LIGHT OF GOD shine in their HEARTS that they may be saved…IN THE NAME OF JESUS. FATHER GOD SHOW YOURSELF AS JEHOVAH ELSHADDAI OF EXODUS 6:1; JEHOVAH NISSI OF EXODUS 17:15. SHOW YOURSELF LORD GOD IN A TIME SUCH AS THIS. MANY WILL STILL DENY, HOWEVER MANY HAVE TO POTENTIAL TO ACCEPT YOU. AS FOR MY BROTHER PASTOR SAEED ABEDINI SHOW YOURSELF STRONG AS JEHOVAH ROHI OF PSALM 23. STRENGTH HIM. IN THE NAME OF JESUS. LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN. PRAISE GOD!

  • CHILD OF GOD

    We live in a world not built by the hands of man, yet man spend so much time destroying God’s Work, and even each other. At this time, let each man call on THE LORD JESUS who is the CHRIST, so that HE can due the work that is required to obtain order. As for this man, Pastor Saeed Abedini, I pray and ask that you join me in this prayer for THE MOST HOLY GOD to intervene and deliver. I pray that this man PRAISE GOD as Paul and Silas to bring about SALVATION to all the prisoners that are considered the worst of man. I pray that Jesus join him as He joined the 3 Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. I pray the GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, and GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT do an AWESOME work as the world watch! PLEASE FATHER TAKE CONTROL OF THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION SO THAT THE WORLD WILL SEE YOU IN ACTION AS WE NEVER HAVE BEFORE. I call down HEAVEN AND PLEAD FOR HELP…IN THE NAME OF JESUS. I even pray for those that persecute Pastor Saeed Abedini, so that the LIGHT OF GOD shine in their HEARTS that they may be saved…IN THE NAME OF JESUS. FATHER GOD SHOW YOURSELF AS JEHOVAH ELSHADDAI OF EXODUS 6:1; JEHOVAH NISSI OF EXODUS 17:15. SHOW YOURSELF LORD GOD IN A TIME SUCH AS THIS. MANY WILL STILL DENY, HOWEVER MANY HAVE TO POTENTIAL TO ACCEPT YOU. AS FOR MY BROTHER PASTOR SAEED ABEDINI SHOW YOURSELF STRONG AS JEHOVAH ROHI OF PSALM 23. STRENGTH HIM. IN THE NAME OF JESUS. LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN. PRAISE GOD!

  • Hopeinllove

    First of all we’re unwise to judge a worldview by it’s abuses. It’s comparable to saying you shouldn’t be a parent because, child abuse is widespread. Secondly, it’s really difficult to find anywhere in the present world where christians are imprisoning or killing muslims. Lastly, the issue is a man imprisioned for his beliefs regardless of worldview this is what happened in Germany in the 30′s and 40′s and is still happening in China. It’s evil. Empirically verifiable evil and proof of the existence of evil is correlated to the existence of satan.

  • Hopeinllove

    First of all we’re unwise to judge a worldview by it’s abuses. It’s comparable to saying you shouldn’t be a parent because, child abuse is widespread. Secondly, it’s really difficult to find anywhere in the present world where christians are imprisoning or killing muslims. Lastly, the issue is a man imprisioned for his beliefs regardless of worldview this is what happened in Germany in the 30′s and 40′s and is still happening in China. It’s evil. Empirically verifiable evil and proof of the existence of evil is correlated to the existence of satan.

  • petes_dragon1971

    WTF? How can you equate aberrant humans with a Man of God?

  • petes_dragon1971

    WTF? How can you equate aberrant humans with a Man of God?

  • theluckycountry

    please, please pretty PULEASE, what sort of monster do you believe in, that will only do the right thing, if you beg and beg?

  • theluckycountry

    please, please pretty PULEASE, what sort of monster do you believe in, that will only do the right thing, if you beg and beg?

  • Coggers

    While Barack Hussein and his shill Kerry are bargaining away our nuclear leverage with Iran, why don’t they include the release of this US CITIZEN as part of the deal? I am sickened

  • Coggers

    While Barack Hussein and his shill Kerry are bargaining away our nuclear leverage with Iran, why don’t they include the release of this US CITIZEN as part of the deal? I am sickened

  • FAITHFUL

    @CHILD OF GOD…AMEN!

  • FAITHFUL

    @CHILD OF GOD…AMEN!

  • leahalisse

    To anyone that really just said Christians have killed more in the past than the extremist Muslims, please read a history book and a world religions book. Yes, they both led crusades but the numbers of those killed by extremist Muslims has been totaled to 12 million which heavily out weighs those that were killed by Christian crusades in the past years. Educate yourself with published non-bias books, not articles you picked up off the internet. The point of the story of Saeed is to share the unjust actions that are being committed to an American citizen. The prison is dangerous to Saeed because it is dominantly filled with those who hate Christians, he has been threatened and told he will be killed in his sleep unless he renounces his faith. He has internal bleeding and infected wounds from the abusive interrogations he has had to endure. When he was finally released for medical attention he was forced to put on the apparel of those who have murdered others, but was brought back to the prison because the hospital would not touch him because “he is a Christian and an infidel”. So no, this is not activist journalism. These were facts that were relayed by those who were able to meet with him before he was cut off of visitation rights.

  • leahalisse

    To anyone that really just said Christians have killed more in the past than the extremist Muslims, please read a history book and a world religions book. Yes, they both led crusades but the numbers of those killed by extremist Muslims has been totaled to 12 million which heavily out weighs those that were killed by Christian crusades in the past years. Educate yourself with published non-bias books, not articles you picked up off the internet. The point of the story of Saeed is to share the unjust actions that are being committed to an American citizen. The prison is dangerous to Saeed because it is dominantly filled with those who hate Christians, he has been threatened and told he will be killed in his sleep unless he renounces his faith. He has internal bleeding and infected wounds from the abusive interrogations he has had to endure. When he was finally released for medical attention he was forced to put on the apparel of those who have murdered others, but was brought back to the prison because the hospital would not touch him because “he is a Christian and an infidel”. So no, this is not activist journalism. These were facts that were relayed by those who were able to meet with him before he was cut off of visitation rights.

  • Kathleen16

    This man does not deserve to even BE in prison. He has done nothing wrong.

  • Kathleen16

    This man does not deserve to even BE in prison. He has done nothing wrong.

  • swordoftruth

    My thoughts exactly! How dare our government bargain with Iran as long as this innocent man is being unjustly held in prison? Why aren’t Christians and Jews in our country up in arms about this and storming the White House with letters and calls? I pray God would protect and help Pastor Saeed as He freed St. Peter from jail by causing an earthquake and sending angels to unlock the prison doors!

  • swordoftruth

    My thoughts exactly! How dare our government bargain with Iran as long as this innocent man is being unjustly held in prison? Why aren’t Christians and Jews in our country up in arms about this and storming the White House with letters and calls? I pray God would protect and help Pastor Saeed as He freed St. Peter from jail by causing an earthquake and sending angels to unlock the prison doors!

  • Suzzi

    To Child of GOD: Thank you for your wonderful prayer for Pastor Saeed! Calling on Jehovah El Shaddai, Jehova Nissi and now Jehovah Jireh -GOD who provides ( Genesis 22:14 ) may YOU Jehovah GOD minister to Pastor Saeed and indeed lead him out of prision as you did Peter. Thank you. We know that you are the one true GOD, Creator. We don’t understand, but trust YOU who does all things well. Thank you, Suzzi

  • Suzzi

    To Child of GOD: Thank you for your wonderful prayer for Pastor Saeed! Calling on Jehovah El Shaddai, Jehova Nissi and now Jehovah Jireh -GOD who provides ( Genesis 22:14 ) may YOU Jehovah GOD minister to Pastor Saeed and indeed lead him out of prision as you did Peter. Thank you. We know that you are the one true GOD, Creator. We don’t understand, but trust YOU who does all things well. Thank you, Suzzi

  • AbrahamYeshuratnam

    When Christians around the world mark the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 10, Iranian pastor Behnam Irani will mark nearly 900 days in prison for his Christian faith.

    Four years remain in the pastor’s sentence for crimes against national security. Those crimes include holding church services and telling Muslims about the gospel.
    Irani, 43, has served more than two years of his sentence, and has suffered deteriorating health. The Christian group Present Truth Ministries reports the husband and father of two children has endured beatings from Iranian guards and suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease that has crippled him at times. Prison officials haven’t offered sufficient medical treatment.
    In September, Irani’s attorney appealed his prison sentence. Iranian authorities had granted freedom to 11 prisoners of conscience, and the pastor hoped a judge would reconsider his sentence. Present Truth reported the judge stated the only way he would pardon and release Irani was “if he repented and returned to Islam.” The ministry reports: “He will not accept this condition and will remain in prison.”
    Dozens more Christians remain in Iranian prisons as well. In a country where less than half a percent of the population are Christians, devotion to Christianity remains dangerous, and in cases of male converts from Islam — punishable by death.

  • AbrahamYeshuratnam

    When Christians around the world mark the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 10, Iranian pastor Behnam Irani will mark nearly 900 days in prison for his Christian faith.

    Four years remain in the pastor’s sentence for crimes against national security. Those crimes include holding church services and telling Muslims about the gospel.
    Irani, 43, has served more than two years of his sentence, and has suffered deteriorating health. The Christian group Present Truth Ministries reports the husband and father of two children has endured beatings from Iranian guards and suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease that has crippled him at times. Prison officials haven’t offered sufficient medical treatment.
    In September, Irani’s attorney appealed his prison sentence. Iranian authorities had granted freedom to 11 prisoners of conscience, and the pastor hoped a judge would reconsider his sentence. Present Truth reported the judge stated the only way he would pardon and release Irani was “if he repented and returned to Islam.” The ministry reports: “He will not accept this condition and will remain in prison.”
    Dozens more Christians remain in Iranian prisons as well. In a country where less than half a percent of the population are Christians, devotion to Christianity remains dangerous, and in cases of male converts from Islam — punishable by death.