Congressman Robert Pittenger

Representing the 9th District of North Carolina
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Pittenger urges President to push for release of American pastor

Sep 25, 2013
Press Release
September 25, 2013


WASHINGTON – Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor, has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2012 and repeatedly beaten due to his religious beliefs.  President Obama knows of the inhumane treatment but has thus far remained silent, despite the gross violation of Pastor Abedini’s Constitutional rights.
Today, Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) released the text of a letter calling on President Obama to publically condemn Iran’s actions and insist that Pastor Abedini be released and allowed to return home to his wife and two young children.
“This brutal and inhumane treatment requires an American response which makes clear our dedication to protecting religious freedoms around the world, especially with regards to an American citizen,” writes Congressman Pittenger.
“Americans, as do all people of the world, have the inalienable right to worship the religion they so choose.  Mr. President, the world is waiting for you to step forward and condemn Iran for their actions, taking a stand not just for Pastor Abedini, but for religious freedom.”
Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the Samaritan’s Purse humanitarian organization, recently contacted Congressman Pittenger for assistance with Pastor Abedini’s situation, noting that while Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement of concern in March, “our government appears to have done little since then and our own President has been silent on the issue as an American Christian continues to endure the horrors of Evin Prison because of his faith.”
Pastor Abedini, who lives in Idaho, traveled to Iran in 2012 to help build an orphanage.  Despite an agreement with the Iranian government allowing both the trip and the project, he was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on July 28 and subsequently convicted of endangering national security.  Pastor Abedini and his attorney were barred from attending many of the court proceedings.
Other Members of Congress have expressed interest in co-signing Congressman Pittenger’s letter to the President, which will be officially sent to the White House after all signatures are collected.