Barack Obama has called for the release of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran, reports state.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) outlines that a senior Obama administration official confirmed to reporters that Obama referenced the pastor while speaking on the phone with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Friday. The ACLJ has been working for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini of Idaho, who left his homeland of Iran in 2005 with his wife and children.
“The source stated that President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case along with two other Americans directly with the Iranian president,” the Christian legal organization explained. “According to the report, President Obama raised concerns about the imprisonment of Saeed and expressed our country’s interest in seeing the American pastor returned to his family.”
It was Obama’s first time to speak out against the imprisonment of the pastor.
As previously reported, Abedini was arrested last year for allegedly threatening the national security of Iran by planting house churches a decade ago, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity.
He had traveled to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents last fall, and was about to return to the states when he was taken into custody. Abedini was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has spent the past year.
“This is the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago,” stated Abedini’s wife Naghmeh. “I am very grateful to President Obama for standing up for Saeed and for the other Americans who are held captive in Iran. This development is truly an answer to prayer.”
Abedini had personally sent a letter to Rouhani, asking that he secure his release and allow him to return to his family.
“Mr. President, I, like you, believe in moderation and, as a spiritual man, have no interest in politics and did not seek actions against national security, propaganda or political groups,” he wrote. “My purpose in all my attempts in my hometown was to reduce pain and suffering as well as compassion for the poor, orphans and unaccompanied children in accordance with religious rules and the sole intention of pleasing my Savior, Jesus Christ.”
“My wife and children as well as over a billion Christians in the world seek God’s justice and then your consideration of this matter,” Abedini continued. “Please take immediate action in this regard… Considering the fact that I came to Iran to serve the orphans, please do not let them make my children orphans and my wife without a guardian.”
The ACLJ had likewise launched a letter-writing campaign to Rouhani earlier this month, and states that over 100,000 supporters have already participated in the effort.
“I urge President Rouhani, as I have done thoughout this week, to release Saeed so he can return to our home and our family in the United States,” Abedini’s wife Naghmeh stated on Friday. “In recent days, Iran has released 80 prisoners being held because of their beliefs. I pray that we can add Saeed to that list very soon.”