Last Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry finally addressed the case of Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. In his statement, Kerry said he was “deeply concerned” and “disturbed” by Abedini’s eight-year sentence in the notoriously brutal Evin prison.
Kerry also condemned what amounts to torture: Abedini has been physically and psychologically abused and denied proper medical attention. According to FoxNews, Abedini told his wife in a letter that guards beat him but deny him medical care because they consider him “unclean.”
Kerry’s statement is the first official word from the State Department on Abedini’s case, and it is long overdue. Iranian authorities have detained Abedini for six months for helping with the house church movement in Iran, even though he hasn’t actively worked with house churches since 2009.
His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, has ceaselessly lobbied for awareness of and action on her husband’s case. Earlier this month, she testified during a congressional hearing sponsored by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. “Our family needs your help,” she said. More than 100 people attended, none from the State Department.
Following that hearing, six congressmen sent a letter to Kerry, condemning the State Department’s absence: “[They] … sent a dangerous message to rogue regimes … that human rights abuses that compromise the safety and security of American citizens will be met with virtual silence from the U.S. government.”
The letter urged Kerry to personally assure Naghmeh Abedini that he will act on her husband’s behalf. In his statement, Kerry said: “I am … troubled by the lack of due process in Mr. Abedini's case. The best outcome … is that he be immediately released.”
Naghmeh Abedini expressed gratitude for Kerry’s statement: "I am hopeful that this will put more pressure on the Iranian government to act and free Saeed so he can return to our family in the United States.”