An American Christian pastor who was detained by authorities in his native Iran has been sentenced to eight years in prison by an Islamic court. According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Washington, D.C.-based legal advocacy group that was lobbying for his release, 32-year-old Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since he was taken into custody back in September, was convicted by Judge Pir-Abassi of Iran's Revolutionary Court — known throughout the country as the “hanging judge” for his legal brutality toward non-Muslims who face him — for supposedly threatening Iran's national security because of his leadership in Iran's underground church movement.
“This is a real travesty, a mockery of justice,” said ACLJ's executive director Jordan Sekulow. “From the very beginning Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release. Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights.”
According to Sekulow, Abedini and his attorney were allowed to attend only one day of the trial, which began January 21, and were prohibited from participating directly in any trial proceedings. In a letter written last month from his jail cell, Abedini said that he has been beaten and tortured throughout his imprisonment, which has led to speculation about his well-being.
Sekulow said it is deeply troubling that “we have a U.S. citizen who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran.” He added that the pastor, whose wife Naghmeh and their two small children remain in the United States, will most likely continue to face “life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime — simply because of his Christian faith.”
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