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Christian pastor left off list of those unjustly imprisoned by Iran

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At a press briefing held Friday, a State Department representative touted what it refers to as its “Faces of Iran,” those individuals the U.S. considers political prisoners, unjustly incarcerated for their political or religious beliefs. The list includes many students, journalists and lawyers. Noticeably absent was the face of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen.

Pastor Saeed Abedin and his wife Naghmeh
Pastor Saeed Abedin and his wife Naghmeh in a family portrait
Photo credit aclj.org
“Our 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,” department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters according to the Washington Examiner.

“So we call on the Government of Iran to protect this fundamental human right for all its citizens and to support press freedom by releasing journalists unjustly imprisoned for their work.”

Pastor Abedini was detained in Iran In July of 2012 while visiting family and working on his orphanage. He was formally charged and incarcerated in September. On January 27, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, for undermining national security by evangelizing during the early 2000s.

Abedini is reportedly suffering from internal bleeding from beatings, and has been refused medical treatment.

So why is Abedini’s name missing from the State Department’s roster of names of Iran’s unjustly imprisoned?

“Abedini was not put on the list because they 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,” according to the Examiner.

This explanation fails on two important points: First, Abedini is of dual citizenship — U.S. and Iranian. Second, Iran doesn’t recognize his American citizenship.

On March 15, the American Center for Law and Justice was invited to present evidence on Abedini’s behalf to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan House committee with the stated mission “to promote, defend and advocate internationally recognized human rights norms in a nonpartisan manner, both within and outside of Congress.”

Also invited to present evidence to the committee was the U.S. Department of State. The State Department was a no-show.

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