Saeed Abedini moved to more dangerous prison
There's been a very troubling development in the case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a US citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.
According to a release from Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Abedini's family members in Iran say he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. That's an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment.
A member of Abedini's family in Iran arriving at Evin Prison for a regular weekly visit was told that Abedini has been moved to this prison outside of Tehran - about an hour-and-a-half drive away.
The family member traveled to Rajai Shahr Prison and was told that Abedini is imprisoned there and not allowed any visitors.
The ACLJ said the unexplained and abrupt transfer comes as turmoil and anti-American feeling intensifies inside Iran.
Anti-American sentiment has been on full display as hardline opponents of Iran's President Rouhani's historic outreach to the United States took to the streets to mark the anniversary of the takeover of the US Embassy in Iran in 1979.
In protests, crowds chanted "death to America". That's in direct opposition to Rouhani's promise of moderation.
The ACLJ has confirmed that Abedini is now in one of the most dangerous wards of Rajai Shahr Prison. There prisoners are held who are incarcerated for murder and rape.
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In 2005, the ACLJ said, Loes Bijnen, a Dutch Diplomat from the embassy in Tehran, described Rajai Shahr prison.
"Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don't hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence."
The ACLJ said transfer to this prison is a deeply disturbing development and can only be viewed as a move that puts Abedi ni's life directly at risk.
President Obama called Iranian President Rhouani in September - urging him to release Abedini.
The ACLJ said this new development requires President Obama's intervention. "He must speak out now - directly and forcefully - to save Pastor Saeed's life. Pastor Saeed's life is in grave danger."
There's wide bipartisan support for a critical resolution in the US Senate calling for Abedini's release.