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Iranian-born American pastor Saeed Abedini is being tortured in an Iranian prison, and is being denied any contact with his family on the outside, according to reports.
American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said in an interview with WND that he and his organization are apprehensive about the pastor’s future.
“We are concerned about the fate of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is facing eight years in a brutal Iranian prison because of his Christian faith,” Sekulow said. “We know that his health is not good. We know that he continues to be beaten and tortured in prison. And, we know that he is being subjected to psychological abuse now as well.”
Further, ACLJ spokesman Gene Kapp said the pastor is being denied phone contact with the outside.
“Iranian officials refuse to permit Pastor Saeed to communicate with his family via phone and have been pushing propaganda to try and convince him that efforts to secure his freedom have ceased,” Kapp said.
Abedini was sentenced January 27 to eight years in the notorious Evin Prison after he was accused of running a network of house churches in Iran.
Missions group Asia Harvest denounced the sentence in a statement on their website.
“He was convicted on charges of starting house churches throughout Iran in the early 2000s. Friends, an eight-year prison sentence in that demonic prison is basically a death sentence. Many people who go into Evin Prison only last a few days or weeks before they perish,” Asia Harvest said.
“In Iran, Pastor Saeed’s attorney filed an appeal yesterday in Tehran. It could take considerable time for the Iranian court to act on the written appeal,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow says Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s case illustrates the ineffectiveness of appeals.
“It’s important to note, though, as we saw in the case of Pastor Youcef, appeals in these cases often lack any semblance of due process and justice, and are frequently no more than a rubber stamp of the initial unjust trial,” the ACLJ said.
Sekulow also raised the issue of the pastor’s morale.
“For the first time since his conviction, Pastor Saeed expressed apprehension and concern about his fate, openly questioning whether efforts are still under way to secure his freedom,” Sekulow said.
“It appears the Iranian prison guards continue their lies – pushing propaganda to try and convince Pastor Saeed that he has been forgotten,” Sekulow said.
The pastor’s wife, Nagmeh, is expressing fear over her husband’s future.
“When I heard this from my husband, I cried. It broke my heart. Behind those walls he feels helpless and relies on us to be his voice. It is so easy to feel forgotten in the walls of the prison. Please help me make sure he is never forgotten,” Nagmeh said, speaking with the ACLJ.
Sekulow says that the ACLJ is continuing to work to secure Abedini’s release, adding that the American public needs to get involved.
“We continue to work here at home and abroad to put a spotlight on Pastor Saeed’s case. We continue to urge President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to personally get involved and call for his release,” Sekukow said.
“And our international efforts continue to generate global support to pressure Iran to set Pastor Saeed free,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow adds that public pressure can make a difference.
“We do know that involvement and pressure makes a difference. We saw it in the case of Pastor Youcef, who ultimately was released by Iranian authorities after nearly three years of imprisonment. That is exactly why it is so important for people to express their support for Pastor Saeed,” Sekulow said.
Sekulow adds that the ACLJ has produced a video about the case:
"We encourage people to share the video with their family and friends. And we have launched a new website called SaveSaeed.org.
"All of this in an attempt to generate public support for him and to put pressure on the U.S. government and international organizations to do all they can to secure Pastor Saeed's freedom," Sekulow said.
We continue to work and to pray for the release of Pastor Saeed so that he can be rejoined with his wife and two young children here in the U.S," Sekulow said.
WND reported in December that the American pastor was in Iran to visit family and to build an orphanage. The story also said that Iran is ignoring the pastor's American citizenship.
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 The arrest is typical of Iran's regime.
"Iran has commonly employed intimidation tactics to stop the spread of Christianity and the growth of the underground house church," Sekulow said.
"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."