Iran (MNN) — American pastor Saeed Abedini was wrongly imprisoned nearly three years ago. And things are only getting worse.
Saeed was originally imprisoned merely for practicing his Christian faith. Ten years ago, he met with believers in private homes, which was completely legal at the time under Iranian law. But the country now views this as a threat to the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and a crime punishable by law.
Saeed was arrested and has been in prison for nearly three years. Most recently, he has been living in the Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, Iran–one of the most dangerous prisons in the world. And he knows just how brutal it can be.
The American Center for Law and Justice reports that Saeed was recently attacked as he was attempting to leave his cell. Fellow prisoners repeatedly punched him in the face and destroyed the table he used for reading and studying.
Prison guards did intervene, and Saeed quickly received medical attention. His eyes were beaten black and blue, but no bones were broken.
This was not the first incident. Saeed has been beaten multiple times by both prisoners and wardens. This is drawn to the fact that Saeed is not only an American, but a former Muslim converted to Christianity. Saeed is serving an eight-year sentence, but prison guards threaten to not release him unless he renounces Christianity.
“It is heartbreaking to me and my family that Saeed was again beaten in prison,” Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, said in an article by ACLJ. “Saeed’s life is continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity. It’s time to get Saeed home before it is too late.”
“Too late” is most likely only a few weeks away. The U.S. and Iran are currently in the middle of a nuclear deal negotiation, with a deadline of June 30. Saeed’s family, as well as family members of the other three Americans imprisoned in Iran, say now is the time for the U.S. to demand their release.
If the nuclear deal falls through, relations between the U.S. and Iran would be negatively affected, and Iran would most likely be less willing to release the Americans. On the other hand, a successful deal might diminish the urgency of the U.S. to free the prisoners.
The families are also disappointed at the Obama Administration and State Department’s seeming lack of concern for the prisoners. They were told that efforts to free the Americans were being discussed on the “sidelines” of nuclear negotiations.
But the good news is members of both sides of Congress have their support. Members from both the House and Senate said they demand the release of the American prisoners before they make any deal with Iran. The Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a resolution directly calling for the prisoners’ release, which will go to the House floor for a full vote.
Don’t let the cries of this faithful servant of God go unanswered. Pray for the safety and release of Pastor Saeed and the American prisoners. Pray also that the prisoners’ families would have hope.
You can also sign a petition for Pastor Saeed’s freedom through BeHeardProject.com. There are currently over 967,000 signatures, and the goal is to reach 1 million.