Iran: Prison sentence for US pastor criticised

Christian Solidarity Worldwide is calling upon the Iranian authorities to reconsider the imprisonment of a US-Iranian pastor.

Saeed Abedini, a convert to Christianity with dual US and Iranian nationality, was sentenced to eight years in prison on 27 January for "actions against the national security of Iran".

Mr Abedini was arrested in September while on a family visit to Iran and detained at Evin prison. The charge concerned an accusation against Mr Abedini going back to 2000, the year he converted to Christianity, and his involvement a house church network.

After being taken to Evin prison, he was reportedly subjected to physical assaults and was not granted bail.

He had little access to his legal representative, who only received the official case file a few weeks before the court hearing at Tehran's revolutionary court last week. The hearing was also closed to members of the public.

CSW raised concerns about the lack of due process in Mr Abedini's case.

According to Mr Abedini's wife, his lawyer will appeal the charges within 20 days.

Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, "There should be no doubt that while the charges against Mr Abedini are couched in political terms, in reality these charges stem from his conversion and from exercising the freedom to worship in communion with others in accordance with article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"We urge the Iranian authorities to uphold the rule of law, review the sentence handed down to Mr Abedini, and respect the principle of freedom of religion and belief, as outlined in the ICCPR, to which Iran is signatory."