The lawyer representing two Christian pastors and a deacon facing six years in prison in Iran for their faith has reportedly been denied access to his clients ahead of an appeal hearing.
"It is unacceptable that these men have been denied access to their legal counsel ahead of the court hearing. We remain concerned about the lack of due process in their case and the exceptional nature of their punishment. They have committed no crime and are effectively being punished for their faith," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas on Monday.
"We are deeply concerned for their wellbeing and, in particular, for pastor Irani's health, which has deteriorated significantly during his unjust detention. We urge the Iranian authorities to release these men and the many others who are being held in contravention of the international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief to which Iran is party," Thomas added. more >>
The fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini continues hanging in the balance following the extension of negotiations between Iran and several nations, including the U.S., on a nuclear deal. The American Center for Law and Justice noted that Abedini has not been "completely abandoned" yet by the Obama administration, and it remains critical that Iran be pressured for his release.
"The American people were heard and Iran was not rewarded with a nuclear deal while it continues to imprison and torment a U.S. citizen. Yet Pastor Saeed is not free," wrote Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ.
"Second, the reports indicate that there will be no lull in the negotiations; they will continue as soon as next month. That means now continues to be a critical time to pressure Iran to release Pastor Saeed." more >>
An Iranian woman hanged for murdering her alleged rapist left behind a heartbreaking message for her mother in which she asserts that "death is not the end of life" and that she trusts God with her future, even if it meant death by the Iranian court.
"Let's see what God wants," Reyhaneh Jabbari said in a voicemail to her mother several months ago. The Iranian woman was charged with the murder of her accused rapist and in jail at the time she left the voicemail—her fate had not yet been decided, but she knew that she could easily be found guilty and hanged.
"The world did not love us," she said. "It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country's Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me … I will charge Qassem Shabani and all those that out of ignorance or with their lies wronged me and trampled on my rights and didn't pay heed to the fact that sometimes what appears as reality is different from it." more >>
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men's families to travel great distances to see them.
"We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
"We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party." more >>
A 26-year-old Iranian mother who was set to be executed on Tuesday for killing a man who attempted to rape her has reportedly been granted a last minute reprieve.
FoxNews.com reported that Rayhaneh Jabbari's execution was postponed on Tuesday following protests at Rajaiy Shahr Prison.
"I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence," Jabbari earlier told her mother while waiting to be sent to the prison facility to be hanged. more >>
More than 460 prayer vigils in 30 countries and territories next week are set to mark the two year anniversary of American pastor Saeed Abedini's imprisonment for his faith in Iran.
"The kids and I are longing to see Saeed returned home safely to us. The kids have been suffering for too long. Our family is ready. It is time," said Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife.
"We are praying for a miracle. My hope is that, as thousands gather together on Sept. 26, our governments and leaders will be reminded of the importance of religious freedom for all and continue to pressure Iran to secure Saeed's release." more >>