Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini held in Iran since September 2012 has been transferred to a notorious penitentiary where he faces life-threatening conditions, according to his family and lawyers, Fox News reported
Abedini, 33, who holds U.S. citizenship, was sentenced to eight years in prison in January charged with promoting Christianity.
Before immigrating to Boise, Idaho, he had established an association of home-based churches, when such activity was informally tolerated, during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005.
Abedini was taken into custody when he returned to Iran to help set up a non-denominational orphanage. The pastor's appeal of his sentence was rejected in August.
Abedini was moved from Tehran's Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison on the outskirts of Karaj. The facility is widely known for its cruelty, torture, sexual assaults, and murder.
He is not permitted any visitors. There are reports he has been tortured while resisting pressure to sign a false confession and for refusing to convert to Islam, according to the National Review
President Barack Obama raised Abedini's plight — as well as the cases of two other Americans held by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Amir Hekmati, arrested in 2012, and Robert Levinson held since 2007 — in his 15-minute phone call with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in September. Obama emphasized America's interest in seeing them reunited with their families.
Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken out several times calling for Abedini's immediate release and noting disturbing reports that Abedini has suffered physical and psychological abuse.
Congress has passed bi-partisan resolutions calling on Tehran to release Abedini.
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