Boise pastor charged and sentenced in Iran for Christian beliefs

Boise pastor charged and sentenced in Iran for Christian beliefs

BOISE, Idaho  - A Boise pastor was sentenced to eight years in jail by an Iranian Court on Sunday and convicted for his Christian beliefs, something that is against the country's laws prohibiting religious freedom.

The Rev. Saeed Abedini, a Christian convert who became an American citizen in 2010, was taken by the Iranian government in July while traveling on a bus to catch a flight back to the United States.

Tehran officials say Abedini was trying to convert Muslims to Christianity -- a capital crime in Iran. However Abedini's friends say he was only finalizing plans for an orphanage and has made several trips between his native Iran and Boise for that purpose.

After that time, Abedini was placed on house arrest at his parents' house in Tehran. He was formally arrested by the government on Sept. 26.

The American Center for Law and Justice said that on Sunday Rev. Abedini appeared in front of the Iranian Revolutionary Court and was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for "threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches".

Earlier this month, U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton , urging action to help free Abedini before the trial in front of an Iranian judge known as "the hanging judge".

The ACLJ is now representing Abedini, as well as his wife, Naghmeh and children that live in the United States.

Since the trial started on Jan. 21st, Rev. Abedini and his attorney were only allowed into the court for one day, the ACLJ said.

Officials working the case say that it is a difficult situation, as the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.

Rev. Abedini is a member of the Calvary Chapel Boise at Cole and Franklin Road, but regularly travels to Iran, where he is a pastor.

The American Center for Law and Justice said that on Sunday Rev. Abedini appeared in front of the Iranian Revolutionary Court and was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for "threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches".

According to the report, he is the father of a house church movement in Iran that help Christians practice in underground places of worship.

He was working on building an orphanage in Iran.

A Facebook page has been created to support Abedini while he is being held.

This is not the only instance where a man with northwest ties has been held in Iran with a prolonged trial. Nearly four years ago a group of hikers (one from Cottage grove, Oregon) were detained in Iran after they crossed over the country's border without permission.


Information from: The American Center for Law and Justice