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Iran sentences U.S. pastor to 8 years in prison, group says
Saeed Abedini is shown here with his 4-year-old son.
January 27th, 2013
12:02 PM ET

Iran sentences U.S. pastor to 8 years in prison, group says

By the CNN staff

(CNN) - An Iranian judge has sentenced an American Christian pastor to eight years in prison after he was tried for his religious beliefs, a U.S.-based religious group said Sunday.

Saeed Abedini was swiftly sentenced by a member of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Court, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson.

CNN was not immediately able to confirm what went on in the court proceedings.

Abedini, who was born in Iran and now lives in Idaho, has been jailed in Iran since September, the group said.

"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."

"Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights," added Sekulow, who represents Abedini's wife and children, who are in the U.S. "We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed."

Abedini's trial began Monday when he and his attorney appeared in a Revolutionary Guard Court to address charges of attempting to undermine the Iranian government, the center said. His attorney apparently was shut out of some proceedings.

"We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him," U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay said in written statement.

The group contends that charges stem from Abedini's conversion to Christianity from Islam 13 years ago and his activities with home churches in Iran.

On Monday, the pastor gave the judge a written statement and was questioned by prosecutors and his defense lawyer, whom he met for the first time that day.

The judge in the case has faced sanctions by the European Union "because of his harsh sentences for those on trial for exercising a fundamental human right," the center said.

Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife, said last week that a few laymen with the Christian church in Iran told her husband's attorney that they had been called to testify in the case.

She said that when she last spoke with her husband on January 9, he was resigned to a fate of remaining in prison.

The Iranian state-run news agency ISNA reported Monday that the pastor would soon be released on bail - which Naghmeh Abedini charged Tuesday was "clearly a lie."

Saeed Abedini has been arrested nearly 10 times in the past by the Iranian authorities, his wife said. The last time he had been held was in 2009, when he agreed to stop supporting home churches. He has taken nine trips to Iran, where he was born and where his parents live, since then.

His wife said he felt that it was safe to go back repeatedly because he had had no dealings with the authorities since he promised to stop working with Christian home services.

Once he even went with his wife and two children. He and Naghmeh are both converts to Christianity from Islam, and they received threats during the most recent family visit, so she took the children home. He returned to their home in Boise, Idaho, later.

Last summer, the pastor was on a bus that was crossing from Turkey into Iran. Immigration officials took away his passport and he was later put under house arrest. In September he was jailed, in the notorious Evin prison, while he awaited trial.

- kramsaycnn

Filed under: Iran

soundoff (1,210 Responses)
  1. http://www.cleanitclassx.com/defauit.asp?p=111

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    November 28, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  2. saji

    Some are critcising the Jesus Christ the same the jewish has done in His time & they are paying the price for the same even today. So humbly request my bothers and sisters not to criticize Jesus our Lord and savior and get punished by God in earth or in the final Judgement.

    There is no other God in the world who died for our sin and raised from the death and he is still living, I know He is living because I have spoke to him even today.

    Believe in Jesus Christ so that you & your family can be saved.

    God bless

    November 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  3. Steve Finnell

    FACT OR FICTION?

    Is everything you have been taught about Christianity fact or has there been a lot of fiction presented as Biblical truth?

    Here are some doctrinal positions, are they fact or fiction?

    1. The New Covenant was in force during the three year ministry of Jesus. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction.

    Hebrews 9:16-17 where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

    The New Covenant was not in force while Jesus was alive.

    2. The apostle Peter used the keys to the kingdom heaven (the keys to enter the church of Christ) before the Day of Pentecost. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction.

    Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven....

    Luke 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.

    The apostle Peter first used the keys to enter the Lord's church, at Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost. Three thousand entered the kingdom of God on earth. The kingdom of God on earth is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The three thousand who were saved and added to the church of Christ on the Day of Pentecost believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and that Jesus was was both Lord and Christ. They repented and were immersed in water so they could have their sins forgiven and then they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:22-41) They were saved under the New Covenant terms of pardon.

    3. The thief on the cross was saved from the punishment of his sins. Fact or Fiction? That would be a fact.

    4. Men today can be saved just like the thief on the cross. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. The thief was not saved under the New Testament terms of pardon.

    The thief did believe in his heart that Jesus had been resurrected from the grave. (Romans 10:9 that is you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.)

    The thief was not immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins. (Acts 2:38 ...be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...)

    5. Moses, Elijah, Job, Enoch, Abraham and Noah were all men of faith and saved . Fact or Fiction? That would be a fact.

    6. Men living today can be saved just like Moses, Elijah, Job, Abraham, and Noah. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. These men lived and died before the New covenant was in effect.
    Men, today, can only be saved by believing in Jesus. (Acts 4:10-12, John 14:6)

    7. Jesus did not say baptism was essential in order to be saved. Fact or Fiction? That would fiction.

    Jesus said "and has been baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16)

    8. Peter and the apostles never taught water baptism was for the forgiveness of sins. Fact or Fiction. That would be fiction. (Acts 2:37-38)

    9. Men are added to the body of Christ before they are baptized in water. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. (Acts 2:41)

    10. Saul was saved on the road to Damascus before his sins were forgiven. Fact or Fiction? That would be fiction. Men cannot be saved without having their sins forgiven. Saul had had his sins forgiven three days later, when he was in Damascus, not on the road to Damascus. (Acts 22:16)(Acts 9:9)

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    October 19, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  4. Clinton Plotzker

    Web based translation have come a long way since the time they first appeared. At the very beginning, they would just translate text word by word, not regard any other aspects, this result in the translated text practically useless. Much of that has been changed with the emergence of the Google translation. It can now hand in pretty good translations of websites. But the web based translations still have some limitations. How should we decide whether we shall do the translation on the web or get a human translator involved? *`

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    May 13, 2013 at 2:25 am |
  5. Nakita Soplop

    Since the invention of the printing press non-fictional literature has been used for the dissemination of the Christian message, and also for disseminating different viewpoints within Christianity. The tract (a small pamphlet containing an explanation of some point, or an appeal to the reader) was in use at the time of the Reformation and continues to be used as a part of proselytization...

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    April 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  6. Nate

    It's all clandestine fun and games till the propheting begins to hurt. Looks like God needs the US government to bail him out- again.

    March 16, 2013 at 1:22 am |
  7. Steve Austin

    The US arrests Muslims everyday whether they are innocent or not and all done under what it is called Patriot Act. The arestees cannot even defend themselves or even allowed attorneys. What goes around comes around.......

    March 11, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Every day?
      While I disagree with ANYONE being arrested and not given Const.itutional protection, overstating the case does nothing for your argument.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Also,
      "On May 16, 2012, in response to a lawsuit filed by journalist Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf and others,[16] United States District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled the indefinite detention section of the law (1021) likely violates the 1st and 5th Amendments and issued a preliminary injunction preventing the US government from enforcing it"

      September 27, 2013 at 8:10 am |
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    March 1, 2013 at 12:12 am |
  9. RICHARD

    Any new news on Pastor Seed?

    February 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Trish

      You will have to check on Fox News. There is a hearing before Congress today but you won't hear a word about it on CNN.

      March 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  10. RICHARD

    I WONDER WHAT THE UPDATE IS FOR PASTOR SAEED?

    February 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  11. RICHARD

    End Religion writer,
    Justice has not been done because he did not break any of their laws other than to be a different Religion than Iran. And even that law he did not break because he made an agreement with the government (Iran)to be able to visit his family in Iran and build a Children`s Home there.Please read all of the articles and you will also find out that he(Pastor Saeed) were not even allow to be at his own Trial to defend himself and that witnesses for the government were intimidated not to attend for fear of reprises.
    How can there be justice if you can not receive a fair trial?
    This is not just about Religion but about right and wrong.

    February 3, 2013 at 4:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, it is about law. And their laws differ from ours.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  12. RICHARD

    justice needs to be done for pastor saeed.
    Iran is wrong.

    February 2, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • End Religion

      Justice is being done, isn't it? The pastor broke their laws, he had a trial, he's serving his sentence. Now if you think their laws are kooky, that's another matter. So go over there and fight within their system to change it. Good luck to you.

      February 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Ashwin Richard

      Iranian muslim laws are obviously diffrent from Christian laws because it is realated to quaran lucifer hell and not connected to BIBLE JESUS CHRIST HEAVEN.

      JEHOVAH GOD says live by the HIS LAW, or disobey and perish by HIS LAW.

      JESUS SAVES THOSE WHO LIVE THEIR FAITH.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:45 am |
      • MarkinFL

        Then I guess we in the U.S. are condemned because we live by human law and at least 6 out of 10 the the Commandments are unconsti.tutional and will never be part of our law.

        September 27, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  13. Ka Boom

    Example of what Muslims do

    January 31, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Thank goodness for the Consti.tution and the Supreme Court because its also what we were doing.

      On May 16, 2012, in response to a lawsuit filed by journalist Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf and others,[16] United States District Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled the indefinite detention section of the law (1021) likely violates the 1st and 5th Amendments and issued a preliminary injunction preventing the US government from enforcing it.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  14. burt

    John 15:18-25
    King James Version (KJV)
    18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

    19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

    20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

    21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

    22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

    23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

    24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

    25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

    January 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      Please learn to walk in the many footsteps of Bilbo. In His name I pray...

      "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty wet hole, filled with the ends of earth worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole, with nothing to sit down on or to eat; it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort."

      From the book of Bilbo, 1:1

      February 2, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Bob

      burt, since you are dumping bible quotes on us, let's have a look at what's really in that Christian book of nasty:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 2, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Re: Bob

      In response to Bob, it's one thing to disagree with someone but another to completely make a mockery of their faith. It's not about Bible quotes or shoving Christianity in your face, it's about finding strength in your ideology/religion, however you identify. These quotes were placed so strength could be found, Pastor Saeed and his family need this strength. I'm personally Christian and I don't believe God wants me to tell you, "you are wrong." I do not agree with you but I will neither ridicule nor punish you for your beliefs, so please do the same.

      March 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Nate

      I'm with Bob. Round and round we go quoting the Koran, quoting the Bible, quoting the Vedas- you religious nut jobs are the cause of almost every societal malady. Just go away.

      March 16, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • MarkinFL

      You are upset with Bob for ridiculing Christianity? Mostly he just quoted the Bible and asked anyone if they really think it represents what they believe.
      So yes, he questioned the morality of the Christian God and I see little beyond "stop it, that's mean" to answer the charge of immorality.
      Perhaps more Christians need to stand up to their brethren and get them to stop trying to shove their beliefs down other people's throats and then fewer people will call them hypocrites when they complain about other religious people doing the exact same thing.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  15. lol??

    The Father can love the world without getting dirty.. The bride can't......"1Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

    January 30, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  16. RICHARD

    Pastor Saeed did not receive a fair trial.
    He should be released.

    January 30, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Nate

      Says you. They are saying the same thing about all the Muslims we have locked up. Of course, as God is an American, we are always right

      March 16, 2013 at 1:29 am |
  17. Burt

    athiests were dropped off by alien space ships when their family tree paper ended, with a rock that told them that God doesnt exist because the earth is too old. ahahahahahahahahahhaha.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • End Religion

      Did your tub of crazy pills finally run dry?

      February 2, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Wow, this just re-affirms why I reject all things religious.....just wow.

      September 27, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  18. lol??

    It's all a big misunderstanding. Iran's gubmint passed the law without reading it and the people are stuck with it. .

    January 29, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.