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Reports that American Pastor Saeed Abedini will be released from jail in Iran on bail are erroneous, according to a source who says he likely will be in court again tomorrow.
American Center for Law and Justice spokesman Gene Kapp said the pastor will likely stand trial on charges that he is attempting to undermine the Iranian government. He was jailed after he returned to his native country to work on an adoption project
Kapp said the only course of action for Americans is political pressure.
“The people need to continue to press the White House and the State Department for action,” he said.
ACLJ President Jordan Sekulow agreed.
“Clearly, the most meaningful and important engagement must come from the State Department – Secretary of State Clinton – and President Obama,” he said. “And so far, they have failed to condemn Iran and demand Pastor Saeed’s immediate and unconditional release.”
Sekulow told WND that with only a single statement by a State Department official, the U.S. government is nearly MIA on Abedini’s case.
“The U.S. government has failed to fully engage this case and utilize its tremendous diplomatic influence to pressure Iran to release this U.S. citizen. We’re grateful that the National Security Council has urged Iran to release Pastor Saeed immediately,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow contrasts Abedini’s case with that of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who also was jailed in Iran.
“It’s important to point out that the State Department, the White House and even Secretary Clinton fully engaged the case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was imprisoned in Iran for nearly three years because of his Christian faith. They condemned his imprisonment and demanded his immediate release,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow said today’s denial of bail is not a surprise, because the Iranians have lied before.
“The fact is that bail has been presented to the Iranian authorities on numerous occasions, including today … but [it] has not been accepted,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow said promises from the Iranian government cannot be believed.
The Associated Press and the Washington Post reported the Iranian government said Abedini would be released on bail.
But Sekulow said the statement was an Iranian government smokescreen. Sekulow added that the promise of release couldn’t be believed because the Iranian government had already reneged on its promise to allow the pastor to continue his humanitarian work.
“Iran had agreed to permit Pastor Saeed to do humanitarian work inside Iran. And when he was taken into custody and placed in prison last fall, that’s exactly what he was doing – completing work on a humanitarian project – an orphanage to help those who need it – regardless of their faith or religious beliefs,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow said it is ridiculous that the pastor is accused of conducting seditious activity.
“This trial has nothing to do about undermining the Iranian government and everything to do with Iran trampling his human rights and religious freedom,” Sekulow said.
“The government is accusing him of attempting to undermine the Iranian government through leading a collective gathering of fellow believers in house churches,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow added that if any further evidence of the Iranian government’s methods were necessary, the origin of the charge, which is 13 years old, is another example.
The charge, he said, “shows exactly how the Iranian government views Christians and even small underground churches.”
Pastor Abedini’s wife, Nagmeh, isn’t surprised by the rejection of bail because of the Iranian government’s repeated pattern of deception.
In a statement, she said bail has been promised before, but it’s never been granted.
Sekulow added that there is a clear bottom line to the issue.
“American Pastor Saeed is on trial in Iran because of his Christian faith. It’s that simple,” Sekulow said.
WND reported earlier this month that Abedini was being beaten and threatened daily.