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U.S. pastor sentenced to 8 years in Iran prison

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:00 a.m. HST, Jan 28, 2013

BOISE, Idaho » An American pastor who has been jailed in Iran since September has been sentenced to eight years in prison, the U.S. State Department said Sunday.

Spokesman Darby Holladay said the department is calling on Iran to respect Saeed Abedini's human rights and release him.

Earlier this month, Iran's semi-official news agency, ISNA, quoted Abedini's attorney, Nasser Sarbazi, as saying his client stood trial in the Revolutionary Court on charges of attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes.

The pastor, who is of Iranian origin but lives in Boise, Idaho, has rejected the charges.

"Mr. Abedini's attorney had only one day (Jan. 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial," Holladay said.

Following the court presentation, ISNA quoted Sarbazi as saying the court would issue its verdict later, and that Abedini would be allowed to leave Iran and meet his family in the U.S. after posting bail.

"The promise of his release was a lie," said the pastor's wife, Naghmeh. "With today's development, I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil."

Her comments were provided by the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, which focuses on constitutional and human rights law around the world. The center is representing the pastor's family in the United States.

Holladay said the State Department is in close contact with Abedini's family and actively engaged in the case. Abedini and his wife have two children.

"We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion," Holladay said.

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allie wrote:
what did he do?
on January 28,2013 | 06:33AM
toomuchpilikia wrote:
He is guilty of being Christian. There is no religious freedom in Iran!
on January 28,2013 | 06:38AM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on January 28,2013 | 06:50AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Do you have the slightest fact to back up your question?
on January 28,2013 | 08:05AM
hawaiikone wrote:
His comment isn't even worth "2 centz".
on January 28,2013 | 07:17PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Maybe our wonderful Secretary of State can come up with an Iran "reset" button and push it a few times to get this guy out of jail.
on January 28,2013 | 08:04AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
There is no reset button for stupid. If you are an Christian minister, do NOT go to an Islamic republic run by the mullahs for ANYTHING, not even to have a cup of tea. If you think you can go to a place like Iran like you would any other country in the world, you are stupid. Like those two female journalist who decided to check out the border area of North Korea and ended up getting apprehended because their "guide" allowed them to wander in North Korea. Hey North Korea is a crazy dangerous country run by crazy people. That's a given, but if you decide to go near the place and you end up having to have Bill Clinton come over the get your out of a 12 year jail term - that makes you stupid. Hillary Clinton cannot cure stupid, there is no reset button to press. Eventually Iran will let this guy out just for propaganda purposes till then the guy can sit tight in his jail and ponder his stupidity..
on January 28,2013 | 11:15AM
hanoz808 wrote:
this is crazy
on January 28,2013 | 09:14AM
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