American Pastor Sentenced to 8 Years in Iran

Photo Credit: American Center for Law and Justice
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An American pastor who has been jailed in Iran since September was sentenced to eight years in prison, according to news reports.

U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said the department questioned the fairness and transparency of the trial and is calling on Iran to release Saeed Abedini, who is from Iran but lives in Boise, Idaho. Earlier this month, an Iranian news agency, ISNA, quoted Abedini's attorney, Nasser Sarbazi, as saying his client stood trial in court on charges of attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes.

ISNA quoted the pastor’s attorney as saying the court would issue its verdict later, and that Abedini would be allowed to leave Iran and meet his family in the U.S. after posting bail.

"The promise of his release was a lie," said the pastor's wife, Naghmeh. "With today's development, I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil." Her comments were quoted in a statement from the American Center for Law and Justice, a group that focuses on global human rights law.

"This is a real travesty - a mockery of justice," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, in a statement. "From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release."

Abedini was imprisoned in Iran after being arrested while visiting his family in September. He and his wife have two children.

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