Update on Save Saeed: White House Finally Demands that Iran Release American Pastor
As the wife of Saeed Abedini, the 33-year-old Iranian-American pastor imprisoned for more than 250 days, testifies before the United Nations's Human Rights Council today, the White House has issued its strongest statement yet advocating for Abedini's release.
Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has spearheaded international advocacy for Abedini with its Save Saeed campaign, highlighted the White House statement, released in response to a Fox News query. It reads:
"We remain deeply concerned about U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini who has been sentenced to 8 years in prison in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs. We can confirm that Mrs. Abedini and her lawyer met with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva Eileen Donahoe. We have reached out to numerous international partners to raise awareness of Mr. Abedini's case and to press Iranian officials to provide him medical attention and to release him.
We continue to send requests for consular access and to press for his release through our Swiss Protecting Power in Tehran. As in every communication we send on this case, the Iranians refuse all requests, as they do not recognize Mr. Abedini's US citizenship. We will continue to press for Mr. Abedini's release . . . until [he is] safely returned to [his] famil[y]."
CT has reported how Abedini was the latest Christian convert to face Iran's death penalty (replacing the high-profile plight of Yousef Nadarkhani), and has claimed torture for his faith while imprisoned. Most recently he faced solitary confinement while supporters sent more than 50,000 letters to his prison.
Advocates previously criticized the State Department for not speaking out on Abedini's imprisonment.