A conservative legal advocacy group that has been supporting the family of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini says Iranian officials are indicating clemency may be a possibility for the Boise man.
The 33-year-old has been held in an Iranian prison since September of 2012. In January of 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for Christian proselytizing.
The American Center for Law & Justice has been helping Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, keep pressure on the Iranian government to release the Iranian-American man, who has two young children in Boise. In a press release Monday, the group said an Iranian official’s comments to a CNN reporter offer a glimmer of hope.
“We have various clemency measures in Iran that can be introduced, happened in the past, can be introduced again in these cases,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in the interview. ACLJ officials say Saeed’s release would be “a monumental humanitarian gesture for Iran.”
“Clemency would give Iran the opportunity, within their own judicial system, to release Pastor Saeed and show the world that it is serious about changing its human rights’ record,” the group said in the release.
The group praised U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky for sending a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, urging clemency.
Naghmeh Abedini has changed her mind about joining clergy from across the country in peaceful protests outside the White House. She had planned to participate — facing arrest — but had a change of heart.
She posted this on her Facebook page last week:”After further prayer and counsel, I have determined it is not in the best interest of Saeed and our family for me to participate in the March 8th event that would have resulted in my arrest. It has always been important to Saeed and me that our actions as Christians promote unity within and not divide the Body of Christ. In wanting to honor and protect my husband, my children, and the Body of Christ, I have decided it is in the best interests of my husband, my family, and the Body of Christ that I not participate on March 8th. As a mother of two who has been without my husband and father of our two children for more than a year now, I will continue to focus on doing everything I can in this country and abroad to secure the freedom of Saeed. I am most grateful for the many efforts and prayers underway on behalf of Saeed. We continue to pray for his release.”