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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Pastor Saeed Abedini Excluded From State Department's Iran Prisoners List

  • Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2013 Apr 29
  • Comments

The U.S. State Department's "virtual embassy" to Iran, which highlights that country's human rights abuses, has a site listing those jailed for dissent or religious beliefs -- but it doesn't include imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been tortured because of his Christian faith, the Christian Post reports. According to department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, the Virtual Embassy Tehran page "has a Faces of Iran site that highlights the cases of dozens of individuals imprisoned in Iran for their political or religious beliefs, their status as a journalist, human rights or women's defender, their role as a student activist, or for simply exercising their universal human right to speak freely. So we call on the government of Iran to protect this fundamental human right for all its citizens." The page carries dozens of names, but not that of Abedini, who was sentenced in January to eight years in prison for "threatening the national security." The State Department claims there's a reason why Abedini, whose dual citizenship is not recognized by Iran, has not been included on the list: According to a member of the State Department, officials are advocating on his behalf based on his status as an American citizen and do not want to dilute that argument by calling him an Iranian citizen. But Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Abedini's family in the U.S., said: "The omission of [Abedini's] name from this State Department website is disappointing and represents a missed opportunity for our government to stand up for the rights of a U.S. citizen, who happens to be an Iranian citizen. ... Doesn't a U.S. citizen -- who holds dual citizenship -- deserve to be included on this list?"