Voting Index

Freedom Index: A Congressional Scorecard Based on the U.S. Constitution.
This voting index is currently published twice a year in The New American magazine. Each index scores all 535 members of Congress on 10 key votes on a scale of 0% to 100%. The more the Representatives and Senators adhere to the Constitution in their votes, the higher their scores on this index.

U.S. Lawmakers Pressure for Release of American Pastor Imprisoned in Iran

By:  Dave Bohon
02/19/2013
       
U.S. Lawmakers Pressure for Release of American Pastor Imprisoned in Iran

Over 80 U.S. lawmakers are calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to step up U.S. efforts to gain the release of American pastor Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned in Iran.

More than 80 senators and representatives sent a letter February 12 to new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to step up U.S. efforts to gain the release of 32-year-old American pastor Saeed Abedini, who was sentenced last month to eight years in an Iranian prison for his pastoral leadership of Iran's underground church. Abedini, who was born and raised in Iran, had recently been making regular trips back to Iran with his American-born wife and children. He was taken into custody last September while in Iran to help start a non-sectarian orphanage and was subjected to severe torture and beatings in Iran's notorious Evin Prison before being convicted and sentenced last month by one of Iran's most ruthless religious court judges.

In late January, Kerry told U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that he was “deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency” of Abedini's trial and conviction. Kerry emphasized that he and the Obama administration “condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him.”

While thanking Kerry for his public statement on the diplomatic issue, the group of bipartisan lawmakers urged the new secretary of state to go a step further and “exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini's immediate release.” They counseled that although “there are countless important issues that come before you, few are more sacred than defending the most fundamental rights. It is even more incumbent upon us to stand against persecution when it is levied against our own citizens. As an American citizen, Mr. Abedini deserves nothing less than the exercising of every diplomatic tool of the U.S. government to defend his basic human rights.”

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