American Pastor Sentenced to 8 Years in Iranian Prison

Saeed Abedini and children / ACLJ


The Iranian government sentenced American pastor Saeed Abedini to eight years in prison for practicing Christianity, the U.S. State Department announced on Sunday.

CBS News reports:

Earlier this month, Iran's semi-official news agency, ISNA, quoted Abedini's attorney, Nasser Sarbazi, as saying his client stood trial in the Revolutionary Court on charges of attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes.

"Mr. Abedini's attorney had only one day (Jan. 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial," [State Department spokesman Darby] Holladay said.

Abedini became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2010 after marrying his American wife, Naghmeh. They have two children.

Following the court presentation, ISNA quoted Sarbazi as saying the court would issue its verdict later, and that Abedini would be allowed to leave Iran and meet his family in the U.S. after posting bail.

"The promise of his release was a lie," said the pastor's wife, Naghmeh. "With today's development, I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil."

The State Department has recognized the case and is in "close contact with Abedini’s family and actively engaged." Additionally, the Washington D.C.-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is representing the Abedini family.

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