Efforts to win the release of an American pastor held in a notorious Iranian prison got a boost from comments by Secretary of State John Kerry that gave a nod to U.S. allies to quietly intervene, the pastor’s wife and supporters say.
Saeed Abedini, 32, a native of Iran who became a naturalized American citizen in 2010, is serving an eight-year sentence. Iranian authorities said he threatened the country’s national security by helping to found “house churches” for evangelical Christians in Iran, said Jordan Sekulow,executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh.
Kerry’s statement gave “a kind of green light” to U.S. allies that have diplomatic relations with Iran to push Iran to release Abedini or get him medical treatment, Sekulow said. “Since the Kerry statement, that work is finally beginning to be done. It’s a good sign.”
Kerry said March 22 that he is “deeply concerned” about Abedini’s fate and about reports that he suffered physical and psychological abuse in prison “and that his condition has become increasingly dire.” He called on Iranian authorities to release Abedini immediately or give him medical treatment.