Family: Wife, Nagmeh
Children, one son and one daughter
Sentence: 8 years Crime: compromising national security by having "undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam"
Saeed Abedini was born a Muslim in Iran. However, in 2000 he converted to Protestant Christianity. In 2002, he married Nagmeh, an American citizen. They became prominent in the house church movement at a time when it was tolerated by the Iranian government. When Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was elected into office in 2005, the house church movement was outlawed and the Abedini family moved to the US.
In 2009, Saeed was arrested while visiting his family in Iran. He was detained, interrogated and threatened with death over his conversion. Ultimately, he agreed to stop all house church activities in Iran.
Saeed was granted US citizenship in 2010, making him a dual citizen of the US and Iran.
Saeed made many trips to Iran after his detention in 2009. In July 2012, he returned again to Iran to work on an orphanage project in the city of Rasht. He did this with the Iranian government's approval. However, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest. In September 2012, he was moved to Evin Prison, notorious for housing political prisoners. He was charged with compromising national security but no more details were revealed.
January 27, 2013, Saeed was sentenced to eight years in prison. Foxnews reported that he was sentenced for having "undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam." The evidence used was based on the activities of Saeed in the early 2000's, before he agreed to cease activities.
In November 2013 Saeed was moved from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison. It is regarded as one of the worst jails in Iran because of the many reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder.
Due to the numerous beatings, bad conditions and lack of medical attention, Saeed suffered from massive internal bleeding. He was finally allowed to go to a hospital in March 2014 for treatment and surgery. However, upon entering the hospital he was shackled, severely beaten, refused visits and denied medical treatment. After a few weeks, his situation improved when family members were allowed to visit and he was receiving nutritious meals. Medical treatment was also given.
That changed May 20, 2014. Without warning, Saeed was beaten until he collapsed and then forcibly returned to prison. His wife and family members believe this to be because of the failed talks between the US and Iran.
Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, "The continued abuse and imprisonment of Saeed Abedini is just further demonstration of Iran's systemic violation of fundamental human rights. We continue to urge for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to stand up for the rights of an American citizen who is imprisoned solely for his faith and to secure his release prior to meeting any additional Iranian demands. It is urgent that the church continue to pray for Saeed, Naghmeh, and their family and to continue to raise its voice to call for his release."