There has been a troubling development in the case of American pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith, the American Center for Law and Justice reports. The ACLJ has confirmed through Pastor Saeed's family members in Iran that he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj -- an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment. Pastor Saeed is in one of the most dangerous wards of Rajai Shahr Prison where violent prisoners are held -- those who are imprisoned for murder or rape. Family members tried to visit the pastor on Monday but were told he isn't allowed to have visitors.
In 2005, Loes Bijnen, a Dutch diplomat from the embassy in Tehran, described Rajai Shahr Prison: "Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don't hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence."
According to Jordan Sekulow of the ACLJ, "The transfer to this prison is a deeply disturbing development and can only be viewed as a move that puts Pastor Saeed's life directly at risk. ... This new and extremely dangerous development requires the full attention and focus of President Obama. He must speak out now -- directly and forcefully -- to save Pastor Saeed's life. Pastor Saeed's life is in grave danger."
A bipartisan resolution has been proposed in the U.S. Senate calling for Pastor Saeed's release, and the ACLJ is working to ensure passage of that measure. The ACLJ has also launched an online campaign at BeHeardProject.com to secure Pastor Saeed's release. To sign a petition to urge President Barack Obama to take immediate action, or to write a letter to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani appealing for Pastor Saeed's freedom, click here.
Anna Kuta is the editor of ReligionToday.com.