The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has started a letter-writing campaign to call on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani—who is expected to attend a UN General Assembly session in New York later this month—and ask him to put pressure on Iran to secure the release of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini.
"I respectfully urge you to do everything in your power to meet with President Rouhani while he is in New York and negotiate the release of Saeed Abedini, a pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran for three years solely for the peaceful exercise of his faith," part of the ACLJ letter to Ban reads.
More than 89,000 individuals have already signed their names to the letter. The ACLJ is encouraging more Americans to sign their names in the letter posted in a section of the ACLJ website (http://beheardproject.com/saeed#write).
"Pastor Saeed suffers from injuries sustained in the prison, requiring surgeries that have not been provided. He should be released on humanitarian grounds and allowed to return to his wife and children," the letter adds.
Abedini, 35, has been languishing in a Tehran prison for three years now. He was arrested in July 2012 while working on an orphanage he was building in Iran, and was later sentenced to eight years in prison because of his Christian faith.
Abedini has been enduring harsh treatment in prison, ranging from cell raids, beatings from fellow inmates, and intimidation from prison guards. He is always a target because of his faith and citizenship.
In a statement, the ACLJ said it's about time that Abedini is released. "For far too long, our innocent brother in Christ has unjustly suffered at the hands of the largest state sponsor of terrorism, and for far too long Saeed has been relegated to the sidelines of international negotiations with Iran," it said.