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Why won’t State Dept demand U.S. pastor’s release from Iran?

Why won’t State Dept demand U.S. pastor’s release from Iran?

Yesterday the U.S. State Department for the first time mentioned American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012 for speaking out about his Christian views and developing a network of underground churches. While family and friends of the pastor, who had converted to Christianity twelve years ago, have been trying to exert pressure on the U.S. government to demand his release, to this date the U.S. government has failed to do so.

Media attention first focused on Abedini in December when it was announced that the Iranian judge who would try his case was the notorious Judge Pir-Abassi, known as the “hanging judge.” At that time, it was reported that Abedini had been active in bringing Christianity to Iran but after an incident at the Iranian airport in 2009 where he was detained, he signed an agreement stating he would no longer promote Christianity in the country. On his recent trip, he was working to establish an orphanage.

During the January 11 daily State Department press briefing, Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked about the fate of another American currently being held in Iran on charges of espionage, and then directed her comments to Pastor Abedini:

QUESTION: Okay. And then can I ask you about something I forgot to ask yesterday when we ran out of time? Do you have anything to say about the former Marine who, I think it’s now 500 days he’s been imprisoned in Iran?

MS. NULAND: Are you talking about Amir Hekmati?

QUESTION: That’s right.

MS. NULAND: Right. We have serious concerns about the fate of two U.S. citizens detained in Iran, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini. Let me start with Mr. Abedini. He was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges related to his religious beliefs. We understand that a hearing will be held soon, and we call on Iranian officials to respect Iran’s own laws and provide Mr. Abedini access to an attorney.

With regard to Mr. Hekmati, we are deeply concerned about him. As you say, Brad, he has now been detained by Iranian officials for 500 days. We call on Iranian authorities also to permit a visit by officials of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, our protecting power, both to Mr. Abedini and to Mr. Hekmati – Mr. Hekmati hasn’t been allowed visitors for some six months – to check on their welfare.

This was the first time the State Department has spoken about his imprisonment, and while seen as a promising first step, Saeed’s treatment during imprisonment is in severe violation of human rights laws. On January 10, Abedini was able to transmit a letter to his family, an excerpt of which follows:

It is a hard process of warm and cold to make steel.  This is the process in my life today: one day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my family and kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus. One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy. These hot and cold days only make you a man of steel for moving forward in expanding His Kingdom.

When for 120 days you sleep in a room with a giant light that is constantly lit, not allowing you to separate day from night, and when you can only see true sunlight for a few minutes a week, that’s when you are becoming His Workmanship and you can be a vessel in bringing His Kingdom in a dark place and you are able to share the Gospel of Peace and Life to the dying world. And this is where you learn you can love your enemies with all of your heart.

While the Council on American Islamic Relations has actively called for “due process” for the Muslim American Hekmati who is imprisoned, they have remained mute on Pastor Abedini’s predicament.

Pastor Abedini’s wife implores those seeking to help her husband to direct their efforts at pressuring Governor Otter of Idaho, which is the state where the Abedinis live. A facebook site “Free Saeed Abedini” has been set up to direct efforts to pressure Iran for his release. It is time for our government to flex its muscle, and for President Obama to show leadership in demanding both Abedini and Hekmati’s human rights be respected in Iran.

So far, Abedini has only warranted an afterthought in a State Department briefing, which is unacceptable.


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Insufficiently Sensitive | January 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm

So far, Abedini has only warranted an afterthought in a State Department briefing, which is unacceptable.

This is a State Department whose mission for the last four years has been devoted to the election of Hillary Clinton as US President in 2014. Mere Christians count as negatives to her political base, so why should we expect any public actions by the State Department on Abedini’s behalf?

Thanks for helping to publicize this, Anne.

That excerpt from the letter to his family is like poetry.

“Why won’t state department demand U.S. pastor’s release from Iran?”

To ask the question is to answer it; the United States state department represents this administration’s interpretation of American values: Americans do not demand. We listen. We understand. We do not make others uncomfortable. We leave our ambassadors to die, we hide wittnesses, we have talking points. The pastor’s release is unimportant, talking about it, dialog is.

Until the Secretary of State hears about it, she won’t be able to react to it, let alone demand anyone’s release.

And it’s hard to hear about anything when your head is usually in your toilet.

    Dude…!!! She got a concussion and a blood clot. An’ stuff…!!!

    When you drink like a fish, you are often on your knees to the lil’ porcelain god…

“Why won’t state department demand U.S. pastor’s release from Iran?”

That’s simple…he isn’t one of Holder’s People.

    sablegsd in reply to serfer1962. | January 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    It wouldn’t matter if he was black. The key in this case is he is a CHRISTIAN.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to sablegsd. | January 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Exactly! You deserve a cookie, my friend.

      The Islamicized State Department, thank you Hillary and gal pal Huma, are not going to do anything much to help a Christian bringing Christ to the heathens. As for CAIR, ha ha!

      Reading his letter, I firmly do not believe this man signed anything that stated he would stop spreading the Word. His words ring with the power and conviction of faith and the knowledge of what he would lose were he to turn aside from the Great Commission. For this guy, I think it is as Peter wrote, “for me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

        BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Juba Doobai!. | January 13, 2013 at 1:17 am

        It has been all done before. The Magi were from Persia you do realize?

        So you think God has waitedv2100 years & chosen this guy?

        Why do American Christians think they are everything ? You have not contributed one damn thing – not one decent church style – just telepreachers.


BannedbytheGuardian | January 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm

America has not had any influence in Iran for decades for reasons you already know. It is not magically different today.

The usual thing is that they are handed over at some point convenient for the Iranians not much worse for wear.

‘Active in bringing Christianity to Iran ‘. Anne where do you get this stuff from ? They may not be recognizable to Americans but Iran has had various Christian sects since at least 100 ad. They held out against Rome & were the wild childs with their own distinct philosophies. there were many sects that were ostracized & persecuted to establish Roman orthodoxy ,but they continued to exist as evidenced by The Dead Sea Scrolls.

‘Establishing an orphanage ‘. This used to be a NGO favorite – maybe at one time even genuine -but they became fronts for operatives decades ago. Then the Paedophiles moved in . I cannot believe you are so trusting.

In this particular case – the man was warned. He should have taken his luck & left for good -maybe only returning for genuine family visits. if you recall Iran refused Barbara Bush a visit after the earthquakes in the Zora’s stronghold.

There are boundaries. Iran has children but they belong to Iran . What does he want with them ? On one hand ‘american conservatives ‘ rightly complain about your cultural norms being usurped yet it is heroic if some guy goes to Iran imposing his American values.

It is not cultural relativism – it is just Mind Your Own Business – & gtf outta there.

    “What does he want with them ? On one hand ‘american conservatives ‘ rightly complain about your cultural norms being usurped yet it is heroic if some guy goes to Iran imposing his American values.”

    You mean like St. Patrick “imposed” his values on the Irish, you poor, stupid cluck…???

    Uncle Samuel in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | January 13, 2013 at 8:17 am

    SO – do you have some kind of proof this pastor was sexually exploiting Iranian children? If not, shut up.

    Do also be aware that in Afghanistan, Indonesia, and many other Islamic hell-holes, children are sold into sexual slavery and exploited…and porn, even child porn is sold and consumed…Islamic Sharia countries are the largest producers and consumers of porn (and drugs) of all kinds.

    Islam is not known for protecting women or children. Rather the opposite.

BannedbytheGuardian | January 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Not Barbara – mrs GW Bush.

Really guys too many Bushes.

Well, isn’t it obvious to you yet? ovomit is a slimy muslim and he slobbers on all muslim knobs. He has infiltrated the entire government with his slimy kin and is bankrolling their jihad with our money. He is a treasonous commiecrat koranimal and should be in prison awaiting execution at this stage.

Crude. But at the same time, well said!

The American Center for Law and Justice have been all over this case since the beginning. They are the ones that mobilized and lawyerized and got the previous pastor Youcef out of jail after Iran gave him a death sentence. The State Department is nothing next to the power of the G-d of Israel. Jay Sekulow and his Jewish law colleagues are at the forefront of this kind of fight. See more at:
“…Over 66,000 Americans have already spoken out on Pastor Saeed’s behalf urging action from the U.S. government to free this persecuted pastor. As we saw repeatedly in Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s case, when thousands of people here in America and around the world take action, governments listen, and that immense international pressure led to Pastor Youcef’s eventual release both times Iran has imprisoned him.

The State Department’s statement today is a great first step in engaging world leaders to pressure Iran for Pastor Saeed’s release. It is critical that direct action be taken on his behalf, as his recent letter notes that he has been told he “will hang” for his faith and has received “beatings” while in Evin Prison.

Please continue to pray, share his story, and sign our petition for his release…”
Join our efforts to free Pastor Saeed by signing the petition demanding the State Department take action on his behalf.

Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice.