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An American pastor jailed in Iran’s notorious Evin prison for preaching the Christian faith says prison authorities have subjected him to “horrific pressures” and “psychological warfare,” which includes death threats.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which is urging the U.S. government and United Nations to intervene, today reported Pastor Saeed Abedini has written the first letter he’s been allowed since his conviction and sentence in January.
The 32-year-old reports conditions are “so very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky.”
He said he constantly is under pressure to abandon Christianity.
“There are those who are enemies of the living Bible and do not want to hear. They are trying to put me under such horrific pressures (that are sometimes unbearable) so that they can show me that my faith is empty and not real. … They are only waiting for one thing … for me to deny Christ,” he wrote.
Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, which represents Saeed’s wife and children, who reside in the U.S., said the “torture, the beatings, the death threats never end.”
“The Iranians continue to do everything they can to break Pastor Saeed – both physically and psychologically,” he said. “The abuse he continues to face is nothing less than brutal. It’s our hope that this latest communication only intensifies efforts in this country and abroad to pressure Iran to release this U.S. citizen.”
In his letter, the pastor writes of being tormented by various bullying “groups, the psychological warfare, a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked, being confronted with extremists in the prison who create another prison within the prison walls, and the death threats.”
But he says he knows he is not forgotten.
“This is my message for the church: Stay strong for His glory. He will come back soon! Be with God and give your best efforts for His kingdom.”
His wife, Naghmeh, told the ACLJ it is “heart-wrenching to hear of Saeed’s continued abuse and torture in the Iranian prison.”
“We have known for some time that he is facing physical and psychological abuse. Now our worst fears have been confirmed,”she said. “He continues to face life-threatening abuse at the hands of the Iranian officials simply because of his faith in Jesus.”
She has been prohibited from speaking with her husband by phone but says she knows Evin is taking a toll.
“Our primary concern is for his health and well-being with each passing day. We know that while he is very weak physically, Saeed is strong in his faith. His situation is dire and with the continued abuse and death threats, we are not sure how long Saeed will survive these horrendous conditions in prison,” she told the ACLJ.
The ACLJ, along with its European affiliate, filed a document last week with the U.N. Human Rights Council calling on Iran to immediately release Pastor Saeed, citing Iran’s violations of international law and human rights abuses.
Also last week, more than 80 members of Congress – in a strong bi-partisan move – sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to “exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini’s immediate release.”
“This new letter from Pastor Saeed could not be more clear or direct – he continues to face life-threatening abuse simply because of his religious beliefs,” said Sekulow.
“The letter also underscores the need to move quickly. A U.S. citizen is in failing health from beatings and abuse – a menacing scenario that should command the full attention and engagement of the U.S. government. It’s our hope that Secretary Kerry will act without delay – doing all that can be done by the State Department to save this U.S. citizen.”
The ACLJ has launched a social media campaign to pressure the Iranian government and U.N. on behalf of the pastor. The group is encouraging Twitter and Facebook users to use the hashtag #SaveSaeed to bring attention ot the cause.
Sekulow added that the ACLJ has produced a video about the case:
A new website called SaveSaeed.org also has been launched.