American Pastor Saeed Abedini is currently serving an 8-year prison sentence in Iran simply because of his Christian faith. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Pastor Saeed traveled to Iran in 2012 to build an orphanage. While in Iran, the Revolutionary Guard wrongfully imprisoned him and has continued to hold him in some of Iran’s deadliest prisons. The following is a timeline of the events surrounding his arrest, conviction, his years of torment in prison, and the international efforts by the ACLJ and others demanding his release.
May 7, 1980 – Pastor Saeed was born in Iran.
2000 – Pastor Saeed converted to Christianity.
2009 – Pastor Saeed returned to Iran with Naghmeh and their children and made an agreement with authorities, after being arrested in the airport in July, to cease all house church activities, in exchange for being able to come and go freely from Iran. The Iranian government encouraged Pastor Saeed’s humanitarian efforts, including building an orphanage. He returned to the United States in late September 2009.
March 11, 2010 – Pastor Saeed became a naturalized U.S. citizen through marriage.
2009 – 2012 – Pastor Saeed safely traveled to and from Iran 8 times, sometimes even with his family, to work on an orphanage outside of Rasht, Iran. In early 2010, Pastor Saeed began the process with Iranian authorities for approval to build the non-sectarian orphanage. In January 2012, Naghmeh and their children were in Iran with Pastor Saeed to work on the orphanage.
July 1, 2012 – Pastor Saeed went to Iran to approve the final board member for the orphanage (9th trip).
July 28, 2012 – Iran’s Revolutionary Guard took Pastor Saeed off a bus on the border of Turkey and Iran, days before he was set to leave Iran to return to the U.S. They confiscated his passport. Pastor Saeed was interrogated and placed on house arrest at his parents’ home in Tehran.
July 30, 2012 – Naghmeh Abedini contacted the ACLJ’s legal team.
August 4, 2012 – Naghmeh Abedini retained the ACLJ as legal counsel.
September 26, 2012 – Pastor Saeed is taken and thrown in Evin prison after 5 Revolutionary Guards raided the family home in Tehran. His whereabouts were unknown for the first 4 days. He was placed in solitary confinement for 4 weeks.
October 22, 2012 – Pastor Saeed was allowed to make a call from Evin. He confirmed he was still in solitary confinement.
Early November 2012 – Pastor Saeed was moved from solitary confinement to Ward 209 in Evin prison. Family visited Pastor Saeed for the first time, and he told them he had been beaten.
December 12, 2012 – Pastor Saeed’s family retains Naser Sarbazi as his attorney in Iran.
December 17, 2012 – Mr. Sarbazi went to the court and requested access to Pastor Saeed and the prosecutor’s file against Pastor Saeed. The court denied both requests.
December 18, 2012 – The court officially rejected the bail offer, despite the fact that the proffered documents were sufficient according to Iranian law. Pastor Saeed continued to complain of violence towards him by his cellmates.
December 19, 2012 – The ACLJ announced that it is representing Naghmeh Abedini, Pastor Saeed’s wife.
December 28, 2012 – Iran’s state-funded Iranian Student News Agency put out the first Iranian media report about Pastor Saeed’s incarceration in Iran. Although, unsurprisingly, the report contained a number of inaccuracies even though it did acknowledge that his arrest was for his faith.
January 9, 2013 – The case of Pastor Saeed was referred by the local Iranian prosecutor to Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. The case was assigned to Judge Pir-Abassi, a judge notorious for his harsh sentences against those who exercise their fundamental freedoms. In the international law arena, Judge Pir-Abassi is often referred to as one of Iran’s “hanging judges” for the numerous individuals he has sent to the gallows.
January 10, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was able to give a moving letter to his family. He gave just a glimpse of the horrendous conditions he faces in Evin Prison. In his letter, he tells how he experiences “intense pains after beatings in interrogations” and how he has been told, “I will hang for my faith in Jesus.” He was even lied to that he would be able to see his family on Christmas.
January 17, 2013 – 37 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 12 U.S. Senators sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of Pastor Saeed. The letters urged Secretary Clinton to demand Pastor Saeed’s immediate and unconditional release.
January 17, 2013 – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) joined calls for the release of Pastor Saeed.
January 18, 2013 – The U.S. Government for the first time provided a public statementdemanding the “release” of Pastor Saeed. The National Security Council (NSC), from within the White House, released a paper statement to those who inquired about Pastor Saeed, calling for his release. The NSC statement read, “We remain troubled by the case of U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini, who was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges relating to his religious beliefs. We call upon Iranian authorities to release him immediately.”
January 20, 2012 – The first and only day Pastor Saeed was allowed to meet with his Iranian lawyer (fewer than 24 hours before his trial).
January 21, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s sham trial in Iran for his Christian faith began. He appeared before Judge Pir-Abassi in Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Courts. The prosecutor charged him with attempting to undermine the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches. The court presented evidence that dated back to 2000, the year Pastor Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity. His release on bail was rejected.
January 22, 2013 – In a blatant and continued violation of his human rights, Iran continued the trial against Pastor Saeed, but barred him and his Iranian attorney from the courtroom.
January 25, 2013 – Both the U.S. State Department and the White House condemned Iran for its imprisonment of Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen. Both called on Iran to release him.
January 27, 2013 – Pastor Saeed is convicted of undermining the national security of Iran for gathering with Christians in private homes from 2000 to 2005. He is sentenced to 8-years in prison. At this time, he was also moved from Ward 209 to Ward 350 in Evin prison.
January 30, 2013 – Senator John Kerry – nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State – condemns Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and calls on the Iranian authorities to respect Pastor Saeed’s human rights and release him.
February 4, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s lawyer filed an appeal with the trial court.
February 6, 2013 – ACLJ developed a new website SaveSaeed.org where individuals can easily sign the petition and share critical information with friends and family through social media.
February 7, 2013 – ACLJ launches #SaveSaeed campaign on Twitter. Ricky Skaggs, TobyMac, Bart Millard (Mercy Me), Kevin Max (DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline), Steven Curtis Chapman, Skillet, Rhett Walker Band, Air1 Radio, and thousands of others “tweet” to help #SaveSaeed.
February 7, 2013 – Grammy award-winning Christian recording artist TobyMac spoke out for Pastor Saeed.
February 10, 2013 – ACLJ’s European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) filed a written statement on Pastor Saeed’s behalf before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
February 11, 2013 – Grammy award-winning Country and Bluegrass recording artistRicky Skaggs spoke out for Pastor Saeed.
February 13, 2013 – Bart Millard, lead singer of the Dove award-winning Christian band Mercy Me, spoke out for Pastor Saeed. Grammy award-winning Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman spoke out for Pastor Saeed. Michael W. Smith, Grammy and Dove award-winning Christian artist, spoke out for Pastor Saeed.
February 14, 2013 – More than 80 U.S. Senators and Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging him “to exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini’s immediate release.”
February 14, 2013 – Country music sensation Josh Turner spoke out for Pastor Saeed.
February 18, 2013 – 27 groups and prominent religious individuals signed an international interfaith letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Pastor Saeed’s behalf. This diverse group of individuals and organizations, including everyone from Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention to the American Islamic Congress (AIC), urged Secretary Kerry to “use every diplomatic avenue possible to secure Mr. Abedini’s unconditional release.”
February 18, 2013 – Michael Tait, new lead singer of the Grammy award-winning Christian band Newsboys (and formerly of DC Talk), speaks out for Pastor Saeed.
February 22, 2013 – Pastor Saeed spoke out in a letter from prison saying he faced “horrific pressures” and acknowledged continuing physical and psychological abuse – including troubling “death threats.” Pastor Saeed said the conditions inside Evin Prison are “so very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky.” Pastor Saeed also said he is facing significant pressure to recant his Christian faith.
February 28, 2013 – The International Religious Liberty Association joined more than a dozen religious groups and human rights advocates calling for the release of Pastor Saeed.
February 2013 – Canadian MP James Bezan in a speech before the Canadian House of Commons raised the issue of Pastor Saeed.
March 3, 2013 – Pastor Saeed reported that he may be suffering from internal bleeding as a result of the beatings he had endured.
March 8, 2013 – A team from the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the ACLJ’s international affiliate with Special Consultative Status as an NGO with the United Nations (U.N.), presented Pastor Saeed’s case before the U.N. Human Rights Council.
March 9, 2013 – ACLJ obtained a new letter from Pastor Saeed, where he talked about the humiliation and psychological torture he undergoes on a daily basis.
In this new letter, he wrote that he is told, “Deny your faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam or else you will not be released from prison. We will make sure you are kept here even after your 8 year sentence is finished.”
March 11, 2013 – The European Union (EU) demanded that Iran release American Pastor Saeed at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
March 15, 2013 – Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, and Pastor Saeed’s wife Naghmeh, presented testimony before a standing-room only crowd at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress about Pastor Saeed Abedini and the worsening plight of Christians in Iran.
March 20, 2013 – Members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and other members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding that he make the case of Pastor Saeed – a U.S. citizen – a priority for the State Department. The Commission also called on Secretary Kerry to swiftly issue a public statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Saeed.
March 21, 2013 – Three doctors visited Pastor Saeed in prison and determined he needed to be hospitalized and treated for internal injuries.
March 22, 2013 – The ACLJ obtained a new letter from Pastor Saeed written to his wife, Naghmeh, and his family in Iran. Pastor Saeed wrote that he cannot even recognize himself after all the beatings and torture he has endured: “My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen, and my beard had grown.” After multiple beatings in interrogations at the hands of the radical Islamic regime, Pastor Saeed wrote that the nurse who was supposed to treat injured inmates told him “‘in our religion we are not suppose to touch you, you are unclean. . . . Christians are unclean!’” He explained, “[T]hey would not give me the pain medication that they would give other prisoners because I was unclean.”
March 22, 2013 – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a public statementexpressing concern for Pastor Saeed. The statement called on Iran to release Pastor Saeed immediately.
April 6, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s Iranian lawyer is notified that the appeal has been forwarded to Branch 36 of the Tehran Appeals Court.
April 8, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was taken to Modarress Hospital, a private hospital near Evin, but not treated, and on the same day was beaten by a guard. Pastor Saeed then complained of blood in his stool, intense pains in his abdomen, and frequent fainting spells.
April 8, 2013 – The ACLJ launched a campaign urging people around the world to write letters directly to Pastor Saeed.
April 15, 2013 – Pastor Saeed reported that cellmates, who appear to have connections to the Iranian intelligence police, threatened they would suffocate Pastor Saeed in his sleep, making his death look like an accident.
April 21, 2013 – Canadian MP Irwin Cotler and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, co-chairmen of Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, issue a press release calling on the Iranian government to release all political prisoners, including Pastor Saeed.
April 28, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was put in solitary confinement, Ward 240, around 12:00 noon Tehran time.
May 6, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was taken to Modarress Hospital near Evin between the hours of 9 AM and 11 AM Tehran time, and was seen by Dr. Talaei, but again not treated.
May 8, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was returned to the general prison Ward 350 from solitary confinement.
May 17, 2013 – In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator James Risch (ID) urged Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to “make every effort you possibly can to secure” the freedom of Pastor Saeed, his constituent. The State Department again pledged its ongoing efforts to secure his freedom.
May 29, 2013 – Canadian MP David Sweet in a speech before the Canadian House of Commons calls on Iran to release Pastor Saeed.
June 3, 2013 – ACLJ appeared before the Human Rights Council of the United Nationsto raise Pastor Saeed’s case with his wife, Naghmeh.
June 13, 2013 – An effort was organized to peacefully demonstrate and assemble in front of Iranian embassies, consulates, and protectorates around the world. Entitled “Standing Together for Human Rights in Iran,” the event not only highlighted Pastor Saeed’s plight, but also highlighted the larger issue of human rights violations in Iran.
June 19, 2013 – Australian Senate passed Motion No. 1270 condemning the imprisonment of individuals based on their religious beliefs, and calling on Iran to release Pastor Saeed.
July 20, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was taken to a private hospital in Tehran for treatment and, for the first time, he was examined by a physician and prescribed medication for injuries he sustained while in prison. According to family members who spoke with the physician, the physician reportedly found a large internal wound with scar tissue in his digestive track, indicating that the wound had been reopened several times. The physician also indicated that Pastor Saeed will need additional medical care to ensure that the medication has treated his internal injuries.
End of July 2013 – One of the strongest supporters of Pastor Saeed in Congress, Representative Trent Franks (AZ-8), once again spoke out for the imprisoned pastor on the House floor. Representative Franks is one of a number of Members of Congress who “adopted” Pastor Saeed through the bipartisan Defending Freedoms Project. This is an effort to have world leaders and elected officials “adopt” a prisoner of conscience.
August 9, 2013 – Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine highlighted Pastor Saeed’s plight. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of both Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, also issued a call to prayer for Pastor Saeed, highlighted the effort for his freedom at SaveSaeed.org, and urged supporters to join a worldwide prayer vigil being organized for the one-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment.
August 25, 2013 – A two-judge panel of Branch 36 of Tehran Appeals Court affirmed Pastor Saeed’s conviction and eight-year sentence.
August 28, 2013 – Secretary Kerry publicly urged Pastor Saeed’s release for a second time.
September 12, 2013 – Pastor Saeed writes a letter to his daughter on her seventh birthday:
“I want you to know how painful it is for me that there are great forces that are preventing me, your father, to be near you and Jacob, my beautiful and fragile flowers.
Although the wounds that they inflict on me are so painful, but I can still say that I continue to bless them and ask for forgiveness for them. I would also like to know that you are doing this as well and that you are not allowing anything but Jesus and His love to consume your little hearts.”
September 16, 2013 – The ACLJ launched a global letter-writing campaign urging Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to release Pastor Saeed. The ACLJ launched a new website at BeHeardProject.com – a voice for the persecuted Church.
September 16, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, spoke at Liberty University’s convocation to a crowd of about 10,000 students.
September 23, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, hand-delivered a letter to the Iranian president’s UN delegation urging her husband’s freedom.
September 23, 2013 – In an important gesture of good will and concern, the U.S. State Department sent a high-level representative to Pastor Saeed’s prayer vigil in Washington D.C. In a letter, the State Department expressed regret that Secretary of State Kerry could not attend but designated Jane Zimmerman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to attend in his place.
September 26, 2013 – A worldwide prayer vigil was held for the one-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment.
September 26, 2013 – Rep. Robert Pittenger (NC-09) issued a letter to Pres. Obama requesting he take a stand and condemn Iran for its actions against Pastor Saeed.
September 30, 2013 – President Obama called for the release of Pastor Saeed in a phone conversation with Iranian President Rouhani.
October 10, 2013 – The European Parliament passed a resolution that called for the exoneration and release of Pastor Saeed.
November 3, 2013 – Pastor Saeed was moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. Pastor Saeed was held in Ward 3, Hall 9 with some of Iran’s most violent criminals – murderers and rapists.
November 11, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s father visited Rajai Shahr and tried to take him personal belongings, blankets, and his medication. He was turned away.
November 15, 2013 – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolutionthat directly calls “on the Government of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini and all other individuals detained on account of their religious beliefs.”
November 15, 2013 – Several influential members of the European Parliament wrote a letter on Pastor Saeed’s behalf to Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union of the Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Council of the European Union. The letter reiterated the resolution the European Parliament passed the previous month calling for Pastor Saeed’s release.
November 15, 2013 – Baroness Warsi, a Minster in the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office, delivered a speech calling on an end of discrimination and persecution based on religion. She specifically mentioned Pastor Saeed being in prison for setting up house churches. As a Muslim growing up in the United Kingdom, she knows firsthand about being a member of a minority religion. She said that religious freedom is one of the bedrocks of a great country.
December 3, 2013 – Pastor Saeed reports that he has been awoken on several nights to men standing over him with knives. Pastor Saeed’s “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners – murderers and rapists – unfettered access to him 24 hours a day. He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene.
December 12, 2013 – Pastor Saeed’s wife Naghmeh and Jordan Sekulow testified before a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the worsening plight of Pastor Saeed.
December 2013 – January 2014 – Pastor Saeed was transferred to Ward 4, Hall 12, a political prisoner ward in Rajai Shahr Prison. He was seen by the prison doctors after complaining of severe pain. The prison doctors recommended private hospitalization and indicated that Pastor Saeed likely needed surgery for his injuries.
January 24, 2014 – Iran’s foreign minister, Zarif, speaking to CNN about Pastor Saeed, said, “We have various clemency measures in Iran that can be introduced, happened in the past, can be introduced again in these cases.” ACLJ launches clemency petition drive.
February 6, 2014 – President Obama raised the imprisonment of American Pastor Saeed Abedini at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. and called on Iran to release him so he can return to his family.
February 10, 2014 – The All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief issued a statement welcoming the idea of clemency for Pastor Saeed.
March 3, 2014 – Pastor Saeed was taken to Day Hospital in Tehran, where he was tested and provided nutrients but not provided necessary medical procedures.
March 12, 2014 – Pastor Saeed’s case took a bad turn when he was shackled and refused medical treatment at a hospital, as Iranian guards forcibly banned visitors.
March 13, 2014 – Iran now claims that the violent treatment of Pastor Saeed was a “mistake” and should not have occurred.
March 17, 2014 – Germany issued a statement to the Human Rights Council’s 25th Session in Geneva condemning Iran for not allowing prisoners, including Pastor Saeed, to receive proper medical care and protect the religious freedoms of religious minorities.
March 17, 2014 – The U.S. delegation to the Human Rights Council’s 25th Session in Geneva issues a statement calling for the release of Pastor Saeed.
March 18, 2014 – The ACLJ presented twice before the United Nations Human Rights Council, specifically raising the case of Pastor Saeed.
April 10, 2014 – The United Kingdom’s Corporate Report on Iran from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, specifically mentioned Pastor Saeed along with other Christians serving prison sentences because of their faith.
May 20, 2014 – Approximately 50 guards in a van arrived at Day Hospital claiming they had an order to take Pastor Saeed. Several guards took him from his hospital room and proceeded to beat him in the hallway of the hospital. He was thrown into an elevator and given an electric shock. Shortly after, he was taken in the van and delivered back to Rajai Shahr prison, back to the political prisoner ward.
June 11, 2014 – Pastor Joel Hunter, known as President Obama’s spiritual advisor, returned from a trip to Iran where he raised Pastor Saeed’s case with Iranian officials. Pastor Hunter stated that he “specifically” discussed Pastor Saeed’s case “with the right person and in the right environment,” asking “the Iranian government for clemency.”
July 2014 –Rajai Shahr Prison offers protein for purchase for the first time. Prison store also offers clean drinking water for purchase.
August 13, 2014 – Pastor Saeed faced new death threats from prisoners who self associated with ISIS and were being held in the same Iranian prison. Other prisoners have told Pastor Saeed that, if ISIS prisoners have the opportunity, they intend to murder him because of his Christian faith.
September 17th, 2014 – On or around the 17th, prison officials cut off all protein for purchase and clean drinking water.
September 19, 2014 – The United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a 6-page opinion condemning the “arbitrary” and illegal detention of Pastor Saeed.
September 25, 2014 – Pastor Saeed wrote to his daughter, Rebekka, as she celebrated her eighth Birthday (the third Birthday she has had to spend apart from her father):
“I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. […] The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is control? LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control.
God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory.”
September 26, 2014 – Prayer vigil in front of the White House kicked off over 600 vigils in 38 countries and territories for Pastor Saeed and the persecuted Church held throughout the day, marking the 2-year anniversary of his wrongful imprisonment.
Early November 2014 – The U.S. State Department, through the U.S. Mission in Geneva, raised Pastor Saeed’s case at the United Nations. Ambassador Keith Harper, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, delivered a statement calling for Pastor Saeed’s release.
November 10, 2014 – As the November 24th deadline for the nuclear negotiations with Iran approached, a movement started to blitz the White House with postcards asking that President Obama not forget Pastor Saeed.
December 15, 2014 – Pastor Saeed wrote from his cell during Christmas:
“These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.”
January 21, 2015 – President Obama met with Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and two young children, Jacob and Rebekka, in a private meeting in Pastor Saeed’s hometown of Boise, Idaho. President Obama assured Naghmeh that Pastor Saeed’s freedom is a “top priority” for him and his Administration.
January 29, 2015 – Pastor Saeed writes a thank you letter to President Obama for meeting with his family in his hometown. “Thank you again for standing up for my family and I and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. President Obama, you have my prayers from inside of these walls. I pray for God’s guidance, wisdom and blessing for you as you lead this great nation.”
February 6, 2015 – President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast about American Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned for his Christian faith in Iran, and the need to bring him home.
March 10, 2015 – Pastor Saeed was shaken as he had to witness 6 fellow prisoners being beaten and taken to be executed (hanged).
March 11, 2015 – ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow presented testimony before the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations about Pastor Saeed and other persecuted Christians. The State Department’s Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, David Saperstein pledged the U.S. government will not be satisfied until Pastor Saeed is home in America.
March 13, 2015 – The ACLJ’s team at the U.N. presented an oral intervention before the U.N. Human Rights Council on behalf of Pastor Saeed.
March 17, 2015 – Pastor Saeed wrote to his son Jacob on his seventh birthday:
“I saw your beautiful birthday invitation that you had made me and I know how much you want me to be there on your birthday. Daddy loves you so much. I long to be there for your birthday and to make this reunion happen, but my chains are keeping me from you.
I want you to know that although I might NOT BE THERE and you might feel my absence, there is One who always IS. One who is always there with you and who can meet all of your needs under any condition.”
March 20, 2015 – President Obama has once again directly and publicly called for Pastor Saeed’s release who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two-and-a-half years because of his Christian faith.
April 2015 – Executions of prisoners in Rajai Shahr Prison dramatically increased leading up to and shortly after the signing of the nuclear framework. The psychological tension in the prison is at an all time high because of the executions.
April 6, 2015 – Guards have increased threats that Pastor Saeed will endure additional charges and/or increased sentencing. The reality of this threat appears more real as Pastor Saeed has seen fellow prisoners of conscience have new charges brought against them. Guards also repeatedly tell him that the key to his freedom is returning to Islam.
May 4, 2015 –Pastor Saeed sent a letter to Christians in America calling for revival: “I have been made aware that the National Day of Prayer (May 7th) falls on my birthday this year! As an American and as a prisoner for Christ I have spent many hours praying and crying out to God for revival for this great nation. We all hope for the success of our nation and for America to be blessed, but without revival there can be no true success or blessing.”
May 11, 2015 – Senate Resolution 16 passes, demanding Iran release Pastor Saeed, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian.
May 22, 2015 – Christoph Strässer, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, after meeting with Naghmeh Abedini issued a statement to Iran calling on it to release Pastor Saeed and all those imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
May 22, 2015 – Germany’s Evangelical Working Group of the Christian Democratic Union issued a press release calling for the release of Pastor Saeed.
June 2, 2015 – Naghmeh Abedini testified in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, urging members to consider her husband and other prisoners before making any nuclear agreements with Iran.
June 2, 2015 – House Resolution 233 passes out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs demanding Iran release the three American citizens it is holding.
June 3, 2015 – Follow prisoners viciously beat Pastor Saeed, punching him in the face near his nose and eye, leaving him black and blue.
To date, nearly a million people have signed petitions for Pastor Saeed’s freedom. Add your name (below and) at BeHeardProject.com.
January 16, 2016 – Saeed Abedini was released from prison.