Daily beatings, threats of death, and intimidation of his Iranian family.
That’s the daily routine for an American pastor who has been in Iran’s deadly and dreaded Evin Prison since his warrantless arrest by the Revolutionary Guard in September, according to officials with an organization that has been monitoring his situation.
American pastor Saeed Abedini was thrown into Evin Prison shortly after his return to Iran to continue his work with Iranian orphans, officials said.
The Revolutionary Guard found out about Abedini’s arrival and met him at a bus stop. And since his detention in Evin Prison, the jailers have conducted interrogations, daily beatings, and threats of the death penalty.
American Center for Law and Justice President Jordan Sekulow says the situation is critical.
“The situation facing American Pastor Saeed Abedini could not be more grave. And, now we know that he is facing beatings and death threats because of his Christian faith,” Sekulow said.
A State Department spokesman finally spoke out about Pastor Abedini in the daily press briefing. The unnamed official said the U. S. government has taken notice of the pastor’s condition.
“We have serious concerns about the fate of two U.S. citizens detained in Iran, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini. Let me start with Mr. Abedini. He was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges related to his religious beliefs. We understand that a hearing will be held soon, and we call on Iranian officials to respect Iran’s own laws and provide Mr. Abedini access to an attorney,” the State Department official said.
Amir Hekmati is the former United States Marine who has been in Evin Prison for espionage. Hekmati has been in prison since August 2011 and was sentenced to death by Iran’s Revolutionary Court in January 2012.
Abedini has been allowed to send letters to his relatives. Those letters document the pastor’s hostile and inhumane treatment.
“In a letter released to family members in Iran today, Pastor Saeed revealed the traumatic and life-threatening situation he faces in Iran’s horrendous Evin Prison,” Sekulow said.
“In his letter, he tells how he experiences ‘intense pains after beatings in interrogations’ and how he has been told, ‘I will hang for my faith in Jesus.’ He was even lied to that he would be able to see his family on Christmas,” Sekulow said.
“This new and disturbing information comes just days after his case was turned over to one of Iran’s ‘hanging judges’ – underscoring the hostility that Iran shows toward human rights and religious freedom. We continue to work for his release,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow says Abedini is thankful for the level of support and encouragement he’s received from Christians worldwide.
“In addition to expressing his utmost appreciation to all of those around the world who have spoken out on his behalf, he gave just a glimpse of the real dangers he faces in prison,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow says the ACLJ has contacted the Obama administration to encourage action on Abedini’s behalf.
“We continue to urge the Obama administration’s State Department to take action to free this American. We urge the State Department to condemn his captivity, while at the same time, putting pressure on Iran’s allies to secure his release,” Sekulow said.
WND reported in December that the pastor was arrested in September and that the Iranian government is refusing to provide information on any charges.
But the American Center for Law and Justice says that the prison is “especially brutal” and that he’s in jail because he formerly ran a network of house churches while he still lived in Iran.
Fox News has reported he was going back to Iran to continue his work building an orphanage.
The Iranian government doesn’t recognize dual citizenship and has said they have no obligation to honor any diplomatic inquiries from the U.S. government.
Sekulow said that the warrantless arrest is standard procedure for the Iranian regime.
“Iran has commonly employed intimidation tactics to stop the spread of Christianity and the growth of the underground house church,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow adds that the pastor’s status makes him a target:
“Pastor Saeed is a dual citizen of both Iran and the United States, but unfortunately, Iran does not recognize Pastor Saeed’s U.S. citizenship. The government does know, however, that in the past, thousands of Iranians have looked to Pastor Saeed as a leader of those who convert from Islam to Christianity.”