Iranian Court Denies Appeal by Imprisoned U.S. Pastor

By:  Dave Bohon
Iranian Court Denies Appeal by Imprisoned U.S. Pastor

A court in Iran has denied the appeal of a U.S. pastor who was sentenced in January to eight years in an Iranian prison because of his church and humanitarian work among his native Iranian people.

As reported previously by The New American, in March 33-year-old Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen from Idaho, was given the eight-year sentence by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Court for supposedly threatening the country's national security because of his leadership in Iran's underground church movement. The decision to deny Abedini's appeal was made by a two-judge panel of the Tehran Court of Appeals, which made its ruling on August 25 but has thus far refused to provide the U.S. pastor's attorney with a copy of the ruling.

Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, expressed the extreme disappointment she and her children felt over the decision of the Iranian officials. “The news out of Iran is devastating to our family,” said Naghmeh in a statement released by the Washington, D.C.-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing her family in the international case. She said that she and ACLJ planned to consult with legal counsel in Iran to consider their options going forward. “The family could appeal the case to the Supreme Court in Tehran or plead for the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, to intervene and pardon Pastor Saeed,” she said. “From past cases, we know that the decision to release my husband lies solely at the mercy of the Supreme Leader.”

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said that while his group had been hopeful of a positive outcome to the appeal, ultimately the judges “demonstrated an utter disregard for the fundamentals of human rights.... The decision is deeply troubling and underscores Iran’s continued violation of principles of freedom of religion, association, peaceful assembly, and expression.” He added that the decision “signals a new level of concern for Pastor Saeed’s safety. By keeping the eight-year prison sentence in place, Pastor Saeed now potentially faces additional beatings and abuse inside Evin Prison (shown in photo) — treatment that has significantly weakened him during his first year in prison.”

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Photo of Evin Prison in Evin, Iran

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