‘I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus’: American pastor faces death sentence in Iran

Robert Tait, The Telegraph, Jan.18

Saeed Abedini, 32, who is Iranian born, is expected to go on trial next week before a revolutionary tribunal in Tehran in a hearing presided over by a judge blacklisted by the European Union for handing down harsh verdicts.

US officials have already voiced concerns over the fate of Mr Abedini, who has been held in custody since July 2011 after being arrested while on a visit to Iran from America.

His wife, Najmeh, says he has suffered beatings during interrogation and has expressed fears for his life in letters to her.

“This is the process in my life today: one day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus,” Mr Abedini, a father-of-two, wrote in one letter. “One day there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations, the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy.”

“His court file indicated that this national security charge was directly related to his work starting a house church movement in Iran,” the organisation said in a statement.

Harming national security is a capital crime under Iran’s legal statute. Critics say it is vaguely defined and used to suppress opponents of the country’s Islamic regime.

Mr Abdini, who converted to Christianity at the age of 20, was building an orphanage near the city of Rasht on the Caspian Sea, fuelled by a belief that the Bible teaches helping widows and orphans, according to his wife.

He was detained in 2009 but later released after agreeing to sign a commitment not to engage in religious activities such as working in underground churches.

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