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Iran’s brutal Evin Prison

Saeed Abedini photo

American pastor released from solitary confinement

Story originally published in The Baptist Record on May 16, 2013

TEHRAN (BP and local reports) — Saeed Abedini, the American pastor imprisoned in Iran for his faith, has been released from solitary confinement — “a direct result of the multitudes praying,” his wife told the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) on May 9.

“Our sources in Iran have confirmed that Iranian authorities returned Pastor Saeed to his cell in Ward 350 yesterday,” said ACLJ, which represents Abedini’s wife and two children living in the United States.

The pastor was placed in solitary confinement, described as a “small, dark hole,” on April 29, and reportedly spent his 33rd birthday there on May 7 even as 52,000 letters of encouragement were en route to him from concerned citizens mainly in the United States.

Though many will rejoice that Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, is no longer confined alone, Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ’s executive director, noted that the pastor remains captive in a brutal Tehran prison and suffers internal bleeding from repeated beatings.

“The severity of his medical condition remains a concern as he began complaining of symptoms of kidney issues before he was placed in solitary confinement,” Sekulow wrote May 9.

Sekulow did not know the fate of the nine other prisoners who also were placed in solitary confinement in Evin prison after a peaceful protest over the lack of medical care received by Abedini and others.

Previous reports indicated care was being denied because Abedini as a Christian is considered “unclean.”

“We are hopeful that Pastor Saeed’s early return to the general population of Ward 350 is a sign that international pressure on Iran is beginning to have an effect,” Sekulow wrote.

Abedini’s wife Naghmeh, who grew up mostly in the United States and lives with her family in Idaho, said his release from solitary confinement “is a direct result of the multitudes praying.”

“I am relieved my husband is out of solitary, but still I am deeply concerned about Saeed’s health,” Naghmeh Abedini said in a statement. “While this is a small victory, I am still demanding justice be done and that Saeed be released.”

More than 575,000 people have signed a petition for Abedini’s release at SaveSaeed.org, and his case continues to receive international attention.

“All of this has led to unparalleled pressure on the Iranian regime,” Sekulow wrote. “The more pressure is placed on Iran — the more Iran is put on notice that the world is watching its unconscionable human rights abuses — the regime is forced to take action.”

The Mississippi Legislature in its 2013 regular session passed a resolution calling for Abedini’s release. The Iranians continue to imprison Christians on a variety of charges.