An Iranian-American pastor being held in a Tehran jail has been enduring torture at the hands of his captors and has been threatened with hanging for being a Christian.
The family of American-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini released a letter from him on Thursday stating that Iranian authorities have threatened him with death because of his belief in Christianity.
"This is the process in my life today: One day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day, I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus," he wrote in the letter.
One day, there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations; the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy," continued Abedini, who is imprisoned in a Tehran jail.
The US State Department expressed "serious concerns" about Abedini's situation on Friday.
Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the Washington- based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote to the The Jerusalem Post on Friday, "This is an extremely critical time for American Pastor Saeed and his family. We now know with certainty, from his own words, the brutality and life-threatening danger he faces in Iran's notorious Evin Prison."
"In a powerful letter from him released to family members in Tehran, Pastor Saeed reveals that he is undergoing beatings and is being told that he 'will hang' for his Christian faith. That treatment combined with the recent news that Pastor Saeed's case has been turned over to one of Iran's 'hanging judges' makes his circumstances more dire than ever," Sekulow said.
The European Union sanctioned Judge Pir-Abassi, who has earned the reputation of a "hanging judge" and who is now handling Abedini's case, for his violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic.
Fox News reported last week that "Abedini, 32, became a US citizen in 2010 when he married his American wife, Naghmeh Abedini.
Two years earlier, he had become an ordained minister."
Lawyers for the jailed pastor are asking the Obama administration to intervene. If past history is any clue, the Iranians will milk the trial of this pastor, even let him think he is going to be executed and then, just to prove that they're sort of nice cutthroats, they will stay the execution and, after a "fine" of a couple of million dollars. release him.
Or they may hang him to shouts of "Allahu akbar!"
The Obama administration can do precious little since we don't have formal relations with the Iranians. All we can do is appeal to their humanitarian spirit and release the prisoner. This hasn't worked in the past and it probably won't work this time.