Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s prison, was reportedly pressured to convert back to Islam through tortured with nails pressed against his hands and feet, according to a letter that he wrote obtained by American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
The pastor, however, has said that “they will never get this from me,” and thanked the 260,000 people who have signed a petition calling for his release.
Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ Executive Director, said that he hopes that number will climb to 300,000 before his organization meets with U.N. Human Rights officials on March 5.
“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to save this courageous pastor, this U.S. citizen, from the darkness of an Iranian prison,” Sekulow wrote.
Around 80 U.S. Senators and Representatives urged Secretary of State John Kerry to “exhaust every possible option” to secure the release of the Iranian-American pastor, who converted to Christianity in 2000 and started an orphanage for poor children in Iran.
"Every American citizen traveling or living abroad should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to his or her defense if they are unjustly detained or imprisoned," the congressmen's letter reads.
"We respectfully request that you continue to use every diplomatic avenue possible, in cooperation with our allies and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to secure Mr. Abedini's unconditional release and personally and publicly condemn his arbitrary detention in a statement."
Kerry has condemned "Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion" and has called on authorities to release the imprisoned pastor.