Congressman Robert Pittenger

Representing the 9th District of North Carolina
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Pittenger to Iran: Free Pastor Abedini

Feb 13, 2015
Press Release




WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) introduced a resolution condemning Iran for the wrongful imprisonment, torture, and religious persecution of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor targeted because of his Christian faith.

Congressman Pittenger’s bipartisan resolution is co-sponsored by Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL), Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA), and Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC). 

“On paper, Iran recognizes the basic human right of religious freedom,” said Congressman Pittenger.  “In practice, the Iranian government routinely violates the rights of Christians, Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, and other religious minorities. 

“Pastor Abedini traveled to Iran in 2012 to help build an orphanage, but was arbitrarily detained, tortured, and held in solitary confinement because he is a Christian.  His children, back home in Idaho, are growing up without their daddy. 

“We remind President Rouhani that the Iranian constitution provides freedom to practice one’s religion.  Now is the time to demonstrate Iran’s commitment to basic human rights and release Pastor Abedini and all prisoners of conscience.”

Today’s resolution continues Congressman Pittenger’s two-year, bipartisan effort to help secure freedom for Pastor Abedini, including several bipartisan letters urging President Obama to take action.  President Obama has shown his support by calling on President Rouhani to release Pastor Abedini, and meeting with Pastor Abedini’s wife and children.  Congressman Pittenger has also led a bipartisan effort asking Pope Francis to intercede on behalf of Pastor Abedini.

The United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report in August 2013 finding that Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment is “arbitrary” and in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Iran is a signatory.

A copy of the UN report on Pastor Abedini, as well as the full text of H.Res. 111, Calling on the Government of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini and all other individuals detained on account of their religious beliefs, are attached, and are also available at or by calling 202-225-1976.  

H.R. 111 - Calling for Immediate Release of Pastor Abedini

United Nations Human Rights Council Report