The European Parliament Oct. 10 passed a resolution that called for the exoneration and release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned in Iran simply because of his Christian faith.
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), along with our European affiliate – the European Centre for Law and Justice – has been meeting with members of the European Parliament (MEPs) detailing the facts surrounding the illegal imprisonment of Abedini, a U.S. citizen.
In a press release issued Oct. 10, the European Parliament reported the passage of the resolution, which had broad cross-party support, focusing on Abedini: “The fate of Saeed Abedini in Iran is also a matter of deep concern to MEPs, who called on the government to exonerate and release him immediately.”
The resolution expressed that the European Parliament “[i]s deeply concerned about the fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been detained for over a year and was sentenced to eight years of prison in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs” and called on the government of Iran to exonerate and release Abedini and other prisoners held for their religious beliefs.
Additionally, the Parliament “call[ed] on Iran to take steps to ensure that full respect is shown for the right to freedom of religion or belief, including by ensuring that its legislation and practices fully conform to Article 18 of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]”; recognizing that this fundamental right includes “the right of everyone to change his or her religion, if he or she so chooses”.
This action signifies an important step forward in raising this issue to a new level – keeping pressure on Iran and keeping Abedini in the news, an ACLJ spokesman said.
This important development comes just weeks after President Obama raised Abedini’s case with Iranian President Rouhani in a phone call – the first direct communications between an American president and the leader of Iran in more than 30 years.
There’s growing pressure internationally for Iran to free Abedini. As Iran continues to try and build diplomatic relations with western countries, releasing Abedini, who has been wrongfully imprisoned for more than one year in Iran’s Evin Prison, would be a significant confidence-building measure.
Abedini’s wife is scheduled to speak at the Missouri Baptist Convention’s annual meeting Oct. 28-30 in Kansas City.