A Christian pastor who was imprisoned for his beliefs in Iran may see some progress in his case to be freed from his 8-year prison sentence. American Pastor and citizen Saeed Abedini was arrested and detained in Iran for his beliefs in July 2012 and is currently serving his sentence at Evin Prison for preaching on Christianity in place of Islam.
In the midst of the fight to free Pastor Abedini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has now shared new developments in the case which signaled possible good news. According to Zarif, many cases have been awarded clemency, or a merciful due for a punishment. This could be one factor to the ultimate release of Pastor Abedini, though Zariff said that the decision would be upon the Iran judiciary.
Republican Senator of Kentucky Rand Paul wrote a letter urging the freedom of Pastor Abedini to his home and wife and two children. "His health is deteriorating and he is apparently under constant threat of harm from both prison personnel," wrote Paul in a letter that showed concern for Abedini's safety. "I wish to remain cautiously optimistic regarding the recent diplomatic progress between our two nations."
Rand Paul is not the only figure speaking out for the release Pastor Abedini. Evangelist Billy Graham has also reached out to President Hassan Rouhani. "As you may know, as a religious leader I have often spoken about the need for greater understanding and peace among the nations of the world," Graham wrote in his letter to Iran. "I fear that the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini...may further harm the already fragile relationship that presently exists between our two nations." Political leaders such as President Barack Obama and Security of State John Kerry have reached out to the Iranian government on the case.
Echoing Graham's letter, Rand Paul warned the country that if anything is to happen to Pastor Abedini during his incarceration, it will leave a strain on the current and any future relationship between the two countries. "I must point out that if something were to happen to Pastor Abedini while he is incarcerated, any good will forged over the past few months would likely evaporate."
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is one of the many that have posted up a petition on their website claiming for clemency for Pastor Adedini and his release from captivity. As of January 31, the petition has garnered almost 140,000 signatures in the website.