TEHRAN — A California pastor that was taken into custody this week in Iran while protesting the imprisonment of five fellow Christians has been released and sent home to the United States.
As previously reported, Eddie Romero of La Puente was taken into custody on Monday as he spoke outside of Evin Prison, where the Christians are being held. Reports state that he had been traveling with a tourist group overseas this month, and broke away from the group last Thursday to go missing for a time. He crossed into Iran from Turkey, and then was spotted standing in front of the prison speaking in several languages.
Romero recorded a video prior to the incident, which he posted on his ministry website, Exodus8One. The footage indicates that he anticipated being arrested, but called the apprehension “an honor.”
“I said out loud, ‘The Lord says, let My people go so that they may worship Me,’” he explains, quoting from the Book of Exodus. “There are five men in there that are undeserving to be behind these walls.”
“These are men of faith and conscience that bring good to society and nothing bad at all,” Romero continued, outlining his speech. “So, I call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to release these five noble persons.”
The pastor, professor and activist was referring to Farshid Fathi, an Iranian pastor; Saeed Abedini, an Iranian native and American citizen who was arrested while building an orphanage in the country; Mostafa Bordbar, an Iranian Christian activist; Alireza Seyyedian, a member a house church in the country; and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, an Iranian attorney and co-founder of Defenders of Human Rights in Iran.
He broadcast his protest live in front of the prison on UStream until the feed cut out, and he was taken inside Evin Prison.
According to reports, Romero called his family on Tuesday from the Swiss Embassy in Tehran and advised that he would be taking a flight back to the United States.
“We heard about 3 o’clock in the morning [in] a call from him that he was being processed out of whatever kind of detention center he was in and he was being given into the care of the Swiss Embassy,” his daughter, Sarah Yetter, explained in a video update. “[He’ll] hopefully be leaving from Tehran to Turkey, and then from Turkey back to here in Los Angeles.”
Yetter said that she and her family planned to be present on Wednesday evening when Romero returned home.
“We’re going to be there to welcome Dad back, and we’re going to be there to support him, and also for the five prisoners, [to] support them and their families,” she stated.
Romero was the pastor of Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente until he resigned in July, but remains a professor at Mount Saint Antonio Community College. He has been known for conducting similar protests as Romero, a former volunteer with the Christian organization China Aid, publicly expressed opposition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and again in Los Angeles last year during a visit from Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. He was arrested both times as well.