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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. bornagain

    ISLAM IS SATANS RELIGION!!! The supression of Women, the de-evolution of human rights. "Matars" who blow themselves up for absolutley no reason and slaughter innocents. PLEASE. Gimme a break muslims. You are worshipping SATAN.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Mark

      No, actually Satanism is the devils religion.
      C'mon man. Do some research.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Damocles

      What the fvck are 'Matars'?

      January 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bet

      Christianity has also done a pretty good job of subjugating women. They are trying to pass laws that deny me the right to make decisions about my own body.

      Read the bible for plenty of other examples.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • CBC

      "Matars"? Like "Tow-matar" in the Cars movie?

      January 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Damocles

      @CBC

      Think that was 'maters'.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      boringagain: christians do a good job of denying human rights. think of gays and the right to marry

      January 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • archeologyviz

      THATwas funny.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  2. bornagain

    AARON what you posted is hillarious. Just because he is not out of this yet does not dis-prove GOD. Nowhere in the christian bible does it say that if you accept Christ & become a follower of God that bad things will not happen to you. Jesus himself lived a life of sorrows, utter sorrows. He was tortured for 3 days straight and murdered viciously. He was the son of God. So your comments are erroneous and compeltely prove that as a non-believer you have absolutley no idea as to what you are talking about.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      It says that stuff in your myth book.
      It is still a book of myths, legends and lies..

      January 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • zometumer

      Its a book of fairy tales.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Damocles

      Right! If a deity is unwilling to help its proxy through tough times, what hope would anyone else have?

      January 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bet

      He was tortured for 3 days straight and murdered viciously.

      Jeebus was arrested the night before his trial and crucifixion. He was not "tortured for 3 days straight". You fundies don't even know the basics of your own myths.

      This proves that as a believer, you have no idea what you're talking about.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      @bornagain: the only thing this proves is that you do not know what proof is. The concept completely escapes you.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Nice fiction.

      January 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  3. jack johnson

    He left Iran over his beliefs, then goes back to try to change them to his new beliefs? He knew the law but CHOSE to fly half way around the world so he could BREAK their laws (This is his own stupidity) he could have been sentenced to death. Becoming an American does not make you safe from other countries laws. Had he started practicing Shari law here he would be in jail here.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  4. bornagain

    8 years in a iranian hell hole for trying to build an orphanage and loving christ. Proves that Islam is Satan's religion. This judge will one day have to stand in front of the almighty God. (not the muslims God because that is SATAN) and explain why he gave himself the authority to Judge a fellow man and basically give him a death sentence for doing nothing but GOOD. Islam is so incredibly satanic it is not even funny. What other book tells you that if you blow yourself up & slaughter innocent human beings you get heaven? RIGHT!!!

    January 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      It proves nothing more than he is an idiot for violating the law.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • End Religion

      No Satan, no God. Just stupid medieval rival superstitions.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jen

      Amen!

      January 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • zometumer

      zombie jesus?

      January 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Ya, building a temple dungeon of hinduism, spy net work on name of truth absolute GOD, deserves nothing less than, his hinduism, criminality, death. He got a better deal for his hinduism, criminality.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Damocles

      So their book says to kill a few and you get in a tizzy, your book says your deity murdered the world and you get all dreamy-eyed wishing you could be like that.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Bet

      What other book tells you that if you blow yourself up & slaughter innocent human beings you get heaven? RIGHT!!!

      Um, the bible?

      January 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Damocles

      @bet

      Heh, that made me chuckle.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  5. Angel in ct

    If he is an American than he is guilty regardless. It's the Iranian way. They make their laws based on religion and still can't get it right. I don't give a crap about Allah cause they know he has not helped them in any way or form. Their fake god has only brought them war, hate, whether its against the Infidels or even against their own brothers and sisters.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Angel in ct

      I meant they dont care about Allah ... well i dont give a crap about THEIR ALLAH. FAKE A$$ GOD.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Saying fake god is redundant.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • skoksvalley

      Christianity has a history of the same things you are now accusing Islam of having. Please read about what happened to native peoples throughout history and see what happened when Christianity was forced on them, nothing good.
      People are people no matter what religion and they have tendency to hurt others in their quest for power and religion is power. You seem very strong in your belief system, however you also have a lot of anger against others who don't share your view.
      Why?

      January 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  6. Rick

    Well so much for Ahmadinejad's claim that Iran respects other religions. No wonder the Christian minority in Iran is getting smaller and smaller.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  7. mique

    Well, that's what can happen when your religion is your government....no room for opinion or thought. We should remember that here as the religous right screams for our salvation through trying to force their dogma into law.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  8. Forget it

    Believe in your religion all you want to, but don't lose sight of survival instincts. No way, would I go to a KKK meeting
    dressed as a Hippie yelling quotes from MLK without guessing what might happen.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  9. Bob

    If a guy is a true believer then he won't fear any man, government or any punishment.
    That said, I always liked the saying that 'God helps those that helps themselves'
    ie.. don't pray for your crops to grow, go fertilize them
    don't go somewhere that will imprison you for your beliefs, let em be and stay out of that hell hole

    January 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • zometumer

      This is why we have seperation of religion and law. American taliban christians need to keep thier beliefs to themselves, wackos. Thats religious freedom.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  10. Answer

    Hey religious tards ...just think about this issue in this way:

    You get to tell those poor muslims that will only spend 8 years in jail for converting to the correct religion. It used to be a beheading. Doesn't that reassure you now that you are less stupid than those muslims now?

    January 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  11. johnbgood

    Such judgment among mere mortal men.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Speak for yourself, mere mortal. I am an exceptional man.

      January 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  12. Gene Brady

    He begged for this. Now wear it!

    January 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  13. aaron

    no one will do anything. american and other white christians do not care about people of color and will do nothing for this man. watch.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I wouldn't help him because he is an idiot. He deserves the punishment for breaking the law.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • pkwilson

      You have issues that make you mean. Taking it out on strangers will never help you. I hope someday you will not harm someone because of your issues.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • poopie

      Probably not. Can't say I feel sorry for someone travelling to Iran and doing things that those psychos hate.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Angel in ct

      Now that was a stupid comment...

      January 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  14. bobby

    no many wives for those judges in heaven. Just osama

    January 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Jen

    This is a travesty! This man does not belong in jail. He was preaching the word of God. May God protect him and keep him during this horrible time. God bless.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      He violated the law of the country he went to.

      He deserves his punishment for being an idiot, if for nothing else.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lindsey Brutus

      Amen Jen! You speak the truth!!!!!

      January 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Bet

      May God protect him and keep him during this horrible time.

      Why didn't god protect him before his arrest? Didn't his children pray hard enough?

      January 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • aaron

      god doesn't exist you moron. evident by god not helping him. of course im sure you have some rationalization for god not helping him that will further your belief. religion is a joke, all religions.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      no, he deserves worst than whhat he got, he was preaching hinduism illegality of hindu Magi s, filthy crooks, by using name of truth absolute GOD, he deserves nothing less than worst for his hinduism criminality against humanity and truth absolute GOD.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • the AnViL

      how exactly is this a "travesty"???

      how typical – xians feel as if they're above the law – then when they get busted.... it's a travesty of justice and they're being persecuted.

      *shaking head slowly*

      January 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Sovereign countries get to decide what is and is not law for themselves. If they decide that all people should not wear blue, they can do that. For the same reason, in certain countries women must wear certain attire (men too). If you break the law of that country, you are subject to their punishments.

      If some god wants to provide some magical protection or loose prison doors and blind guards or make his follower invisible, he is welcome to intervene.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Jen

      Good grief. I have an opinion. Name calling is juvenile and shows your maturity. I choose to believe in God, I also respect those who don't.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Damocles

      @jen

      You just don't respect other countries laws.

      Golly gee, I sure wish I could break every law with no fear of reprisal.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  16. smako

    If you want to be in an Arab nation preaching the gospel of Christ, EXPECT TO GO TO JAIL! Sorry, but no sympathy from me. He knew the risk and thumbed his nose at it. Do your time and write a book.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Lindsey Brutus

      Smacko: The apostle Paul knew the risk while preaching in Rome but it didn't stop him did it! This man should be an example for all of us to follow! Remember the great Martin Luther King was jailed also Smacko, yet he is now sitting at the right hand of Christ!

      January 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Bet

      Remember the great Martin Luther King was jailed also Smacko, yet he is now sitting at the right hand of Christ!

      Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed for promoting civil rights, not for religious reasons. And he's in the same place all dead people are, dissipating back into the cosmos.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • *sam sammys

      Thanks for the clarifications bet, very useful to the discussion.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      One has to be a hindu ignorant to believe in hindu filthy Jaundice of hindu crook Paul. hindu Paul, who lied on name of truth absolute GOD. recorded in book of hindu Mitha ism, filthy savior ism called bible.. Way of followers of hindu Mithraism, filthy savior ism. Christianity to make hind, filth, some thing of holy nature.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Bet
      and your hind was right with him, hindu crook followers of hindu Mithra ism, filthy savior ism Christianity, hindus, fabricators of hindu fabricated stories to hind fool humanity in to hinduism, racism, to be hind gentile filthy slaves of hindu Jews, filthy secular s.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bet

      @ sammy sam

      No problem, sweetie.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  17. the AnViL

    peter bishop... please... goto iran and pick up where saeed abedini left off. get up there on the front line, boy!!

    onward xian soldier!!!

    January 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  18. Get out of Dever baby

    Clearly
    get out of Iran
    ....and don't go back
    never going back, turn to stone.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  19. m fitz

    Hey I want to go camping in Afganistan or hiking in North Korea and maybe fishing in Somalia. Wheres the State Department protecting me when I am on these adventures. Oh by the way there is a website that has travel advisories put up by the U.S. government. I suggest some of these idiots read it..............my answer from the government should be tough S..t

    January 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Albert

    The Holy Spirit will comfort him and Christ will crush his enemies and God will save and avenge this man, who like St.Paul is in chains for believing in God. The Government of Iran is the satanic system, their condemnation is hanging over them. Btw the comments here are beyond belief. Instead of solidarity you allow Satan to triumph...but Jesus defeated him long ago. Pray for this man...I'm on my way to Church my legal right a right he does not enjoy. God save him.

    January 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Lindsey Brutus

      I'm with you Albert!!

      January 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      It makes two of you hindu's, ignorant s.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Bet

      God save him.

      "God" doesn't seem to be paying attention. Couldn't god have prevented his arrest? Maybe god will cause an earthquake and open the jail doors like he did for Paul.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • bobby

      No Albert: Jesus Christ lives. He is kind, gentle. Heaven is a nice place. Many of gone to Heaven and come back like I have. The first time I spoke with Jesus, he was standing on top of a stairway to heaven. I did not actually see him though, but he called me by name. "Bob come to heaven." I did not know who Jesus was, and why I would want to go to heaven with him, so I passed off his request with "Can I stay here and tell them about you?" He said: "okayyyyyy." After 24 years, I can say with absolute certainty, that Jesus is a kind, nice person. Heaven is a nice place, with eternal love, happiness, friendship, family, marriage,peace, forgiveness, and even eternal progression. Says Jesus

      January 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      bobby
      Where you are, do they have a lot of people in white coats, shirts with extra extra long sleaves.

      It's time for your meds.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Bet

      The first time I spoke with Jesus, he was standing on top of a stairway to heaven.

      That happened to me too! I always thought it was the result of listening to Led Zeppelin and smoking some righteous weed though.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • J-Pap

      Keep praying but it will do you no good. This man broke the law of a very strict nation. End of story. What more would you expect from Iran.

      January 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Akira

      @Bet: lol. I've been on that Stairway to Heaven myself...

      January 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      Plant 1:16-20 "And if you listen very hard
      The tune will come to you at last.
      When all is one and one is all
      To be a rock and not to roll."

      Do not Bogart the ceremonial incense...

      January 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • H.F.Monteiro

      Right said Albert,punishing abedini is death of IRAN,If anybody believing god sure dont have a right to punish him without
      reason .o.h GOD deliver him from all evils.

      January 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
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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.