American pastor Saeed Abedini is reportedly being tortured in an Iranian prison as an appeal against his 8-year sentence is being filed.
"When I heard this from my husband, I cried. It broke my heart. Behind those walls he feels helpless and relies on us to be his voice. It is so easy to feel forgotten in the walls of the prison. Please help me make sure he is never forgotten," Pastor Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, told the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) after visiting her husband on Monday.
The ACLJ, which is representing Naghmeh and the couple's two children in the U.S., added in a media statement that Abedini remains cut off from speaking with his family following the trial in January. He was arrested in September 2012 during one of his many visits to his place of birth while working on an orphanage, and has been imprisoned ever since.
After what was described as a "sham" trial, the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran deemed Abedini guilty of "threatening the national security" of Iran for helping underground Christian churches in his home country in 2000, the same year he converted from Islam to Christianity. His lawyer in Iran has filed an appeal against the sentence.
The 32-year-old pastor had been allowed to speak with his wife periodically over the phone, but even now those sparse phone calls have been prohibited. Naghmeh said that she does not know when or if they will ever hear his voice again.
"We continue our work here at home and around the world to bring attention to Pastor Saeed's case and generate global pressure on Iran to release him," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ.
"Pastor Saeed has not been forgotten. While Pastor Saeed's family was able to inform him of some of the ongoing efforts for his release, there is more we can and must do to secure his freedom," Sekulow added.
John Kerry, the new U.S. Secretary of State, and several other U.S. agencies have condemned Iran for its imprisonment and unjust trial of Abedini and called for his release.
"We remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial," Kerry told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) when asked for his response to Abedini's case last week. "I, along with the U.S. government, condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him."
While the ACLJ have praised Kerry comments, it continues to urge people to sign a petition calling for the release of the American pastor, showing him that he has not been forgotten and the efforts to free him continue.