U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini, currently serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran, has been given a "glimmer of hope" for clemency after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mentioned a possible reduced jail sentence.
"Could Iran be willing to give Pastor Saeed clemency? Could it be willing to release him to return to his wife and two children here in the U.S.?" the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S, wrote in a statement on Monday.
"One thing is for sure: Pastor Saeed's release would be a monumental humanitarian gesture for Iran. Clemency would give Iran the opportunity, within their own judicial system, to release Pastor Saeed and show the world that it is serious about changing its human rights' record." more >>
U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini has been transferred from the murderer ward to the political prisoner ward in Rajai Shahr Prison in Iran, but his health problems are continuing to worsen and he needs surgery.
"Make no mistake. Pastor Saeed is still in the deadliest prison in Iran facing deteriorating medical conditions. This is the first positive step, however slight, since his transfer from Evin Prison last November," the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini's wife, Naghmeh and their two children in the U.S., revealed on Wednesday.
This was also the first time Abedini's Iranian family has been allowed to visit him in six weeks. And although he will now receive slightly better treatment, including better meals, his family has said that his numerous medical problems continue to worsen, and he is still throwing up and suffering from pain in his abdomen. more >>
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Thursday that nuclear negotiation talks with the U.S. reveal the western country's enmity toward Iran and Islam. He also described the U.S. as "Satan."
While speaking in the religious city of Qom, Khamenei said that the talks between Iran and the U.S. do reveal America's enmity, but this enmity will not stop the Middle Eastern country from pursuing negotiations for their nuclear weapons program and an easing of their international sanctions.
"We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan (the United States) to deter its evil," Khamenei said, as reported by the official IRNA news agency. more >>
Farsi-speaking Iranian Christians have suffered a new setback after it was announced that they will no longer be allowed to attend one of the major churches in Tehran, following increased government pressure.
"The squeeze on Christians inside Iran continues. Even while [President Hassan] Rouhani spoke about religious freedom during a Christmas message last week, the clamp down on Christians, especially Muslim Background Believers, has increased," Jerry Dykstra, director of Media Relations at watchdog group Open Doors USA, shared in an email to The Christian Post on Friday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reached out to Christians over the Christmas holiday in three visible ways. But Christian leaders have denounced his "hollow words."
In a Christmas statement, Rouhani "wished a new year full of cooperation, peace, security and tranquility for the Christians," Fars News reported. He also reached out to Christians through his Twitter account, proclaiming, "May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians."
But some were wary of his seemingly friendly words especially as Christians, including Iranian American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, continue to be persecuted. more >>
Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, delivered a heartfelt plea to lawmakers during a Congressional hearing Thursday, begging them to end her family's "nightmare" and help release her husband from the deadly Rajaï Shahr prison in Iran.
Naghmeh spoke alongside Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, during Thursday's Joint Subcommittee Hearing, during which lawmakers sought to address the current status of Pastor Abedini and other American citizens being held in Iran. Saeed Abedini was arrested in July 2012 and charged with undermining Iran's security, although it is believed he is really being detained due to his Christian faith.
At Thursday's Congressional hearing, Naghmeh criticized the failure of the United States to bring up Abedini's imprisonment during recent nuclear talks with Iran, saying those talks were the "perfect" opportunity to negotiate her husband's release. "I feel my husband has been abandoned," she said. more >>