WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is working to secure the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini from an Iranian prison, today urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to secure the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini from an Iranian prison before executing any agreement with Iran.
"We are sending a strong message to Secretary Kerry – a message that the United States must stand up and protect its own citizens – a message that Iran's imprisonment of an American simply for exercising a fundamental freedom will not go unnoticed," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "As Secretary Kerry negotiates with Iran over a nuclear deal, we urge him to put the life of a U.S. citizen at the forefront – to secure Pastor Saeed's freedom before finalizing any deal with Iran."
In a letter to Secretary Kerry, the ACLJ explains that Pastor Saeed remains imprisoned in Iran's Rajai Shahr Prison – a facility where has was transferred to earlier this month – a facility where prisoner on prisoner violence, including murder, is routine.
The ACLJ says this is the time to act – before any deal is signed with Iran. "During current negotiations, which will likely result in relaxed sanctions against Iran, the failure to secure the release and return of Mr. Abedini and the other Americans would be reprehensible," the letter states.
The ACLJ calls directly on Secretary Kerry to take action to save the life of Pastor Saeed and other Americans imprisoned in Iran:
"The United States is in a unique position to leverage the freedom of these Americans; to fail to use such leverage sends a message to the Iranian government that these Americans are expendable. We urge you to send an unequivocal message to the Iranian government that the United States values human dignity and that Iran's imprisonment of an American simply for exercising a fundamental freedom will not go unnoticed. With due respect Mr. Secretary, do not execute any agreement or promise any reduction in sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran until Mr. Abedini and other Americans wrongfully held in Iran are released and returned to the United States. To do otherwise would constitute a dereliction of office. Mr. Secretary, time is of the essence in this matter. Mr. Abedini needs your help today, before it is too late."
Imprisoned for more than a year simply because of his Christian faith, Pastor Saeed faces life-threatening conditions in one of Iran's most dangerous prisons.
Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of this U.S. citizen and key members of the European Parliament wrote a letter raising Pastor Saeed's case.
And just days ago, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved H. Res. 147, calling for the release of Pastor Saeed, allowing it to proceed on to a full vote of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The ACLJ also launched a massive Twitter campaign this week urging people to contact Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif – urging them to free Pastor Saeed. In the first 24 hours of the campaign, more than 3,500 Tweets were sent.
In addition to the Twitter campaign, the ACLJ has launched a significant online social media campaign on behalf of Pastor Saeed at BeHeardProject.com.
Pastor Saeed is serving an eight year prison sentence simply because of his Christian beliefs. He has been imprisoned now for more than one year. The ACLJ represents Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children who live in Idaho.
Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has affiliated offices in Israel, Russia, Kenya, France, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. The ACLJ is online at aclj.org.
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SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice