American pastor Saeed Abedini, jailed by the rogue regime in Iran for his Christian work, has been threatened at knifepoint even as his physical condition has worsened, according to reports.
His relatives, who are in Iran, said he has been robbed at knifepoint inside the regime’s prison system on more than one occasion.
In a statement, the American Center for Law and Justice said Abedini is facing deadly threats.
“Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives,” the group said.
His “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, ACLJ said, allowing dangerous prisoners, including murderers and rapists, unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.
“He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene,” the group said.
Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the advocacy organization, said it is “increasingly difficult to hear about the deplorable conditions in which the Iranian regime continues to hold Pastor Saeed.”
“The human body can only endure so much,” she said.
Barrans said sanitation is limited, leaving Abedini prone to further infections. She added that threats of violence are a daily occurrence.
“He lives in filth where he has been denied proper medical attention and nutrition. Pastor Saeed has also suffered psychologically,” Barrans said.
She said that because of neglect, the medical problems “that concerned us so much during his detainment in Evin prison have returned.”
She said it’s sad Abedini is being viewed differently by U.S. officials than Iranian nuclear scientist Mojtaba Atarodi, who had been arrested in California for attempting to acquire equipment for Iran’s nuclear program.
Atarodi was released as part of back channel talks between the U.S. and Iran.
“There is a striking dichotomy between how the United States held the recently released Iranian scientist and how Iran has treated Pastor Saeed,” she said.
Barrans said that while the U.S. showed mercy to one of Iran’s citizens, Iran has sent Abedini from the notorious Evin Prison, where he started serving a six-year term, to Rajai Shahr prison, which is even worse, “in an effort to see him deteriorate to the point of death or succumb to death through the daily inmate violence.”
She said that as world powers continue to negotiate a final agreement with Iran’s nuclear production, it’s essential that Abedini’s case “and the numerous instances of human rights [violations] be brought to the negotiation table.”
A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, who wanted to be unnamed, told WND that the administration continues to “have serious concern” about Abedini as well as another dual U.S.-Iranian citizen detained in Iran, Amir Hekmati.
Hekmati, who has been detained by Iran for nearly two years, was sentenced on fabricated espionage charges, the spokesman said.
“President Obama raised both Mr. Hekmati’s and Mr. Abedini’s cases in his September 27 phone call with President Rouhani, and we continue to urge the Iranian government to release Mr. Hekmati and Mr. Abedini so that they may be reunited with their families as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.
WND reported last week that billionaire Donald Trump has joined the cause to achieve Abedini’s freedom.
“How does Obama rationalize giving Iran $8B in sanction relief when a Christian pastor is being tortured in an Iranian prison?” he tweeted.
His message followed another one posted a day earlier when the Obama administration announced a six-month deal with Iran over its nuclear program and sanctions against the rogue regime.
Then, Trump asked: “Why didn’t Obama, as part of the negotiation, free the Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini?”
Nagmeh Abedini, the pastor’s wife, told WND she was delighted by Trump’s intervention.
“I am very happy to hear that he is doing this, because this is the first example of anyone outside of the legal and political areas speaking out,” she said. “I hope that more people like him will speak out.”
WND also reported that Rep. Frank Wolf is calling for prayer on the pastor’s behalf.
“Are people praying for Pastor Abedini? Are they sending letters to the president asking for his release?” Wolf asks. “Pray, write, contact President Obama and contact Secretary [of State John] Kerry.
“This is a time that the American people have an obligation to speak out and urge the Obama administration to be more forceful in their advocacy,” Wolf asserts.
Wolf also says his congressional committee has advocated on behalf of Abedini.
“We’ve had hearings on Pastor Abedini. The administration has been very weak on Pastor Abedini,” Wolf states. “Everyone who is concerned for human rights ought to be contacting President Obama and Secretary Kerry asking them to publicly begin advocating for Pastor Abedini.”