Iran: American Pastor Moved to Most Violent, Dangerous Prison
Saeed Abedini, 33, an American citizen who lives in Idaho, was in his birth country of Iran a year ago to visit family and set up an orphanage when he was thrown into prison for eight years on charges of undermining national security through Christian proselytizing.
Abedini had frequently traveled to Iran without problems from the government.
His family and lawyers say he has been beaten and tortured in prison.
Equally concerning is Abedini’s recently move to the Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, a facility known to “disappear” inmates.
The prison houses the most violent criminals amid horrific conditions. Inmates often fall victims to attacks from other inmates.
According to reports, the prison was built to house 5,000 prisoners but currently holds 22,000. Human rights groups say prisoners are denied access to fresh air, proper nutrition and are routinely exposed to disease which is prevalent in the prison.
Abedini’s father says when he went to visit his son to take him the medication plus other personal items, including blankets, he was denied access to the prison. Authorities at the prison told him his son was not allowed to have any of the items his father had brought for him and would not allow him visitors
Last week, the American Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on Iran to immediately release Abedini as well as all other prisoners being held in Iran for their religious beliefs, with some saying that any deal with Iran should be pre-conditioned on Abedini’s release as well as the release of two other Americans being held in Iran.
The other Americans being held in Iran are Robert Levinson, a private investigator and former FBI agent who was kidnapped in 2007, and Amir Hekmati, a 28-year-old American and ex-Marine of Iranian decent who travelled to Iran in 2011 to visit his grandmother and was arrested on false charges of being a spy for the CIA. The charges were dropped, but Amir still remains in an Iranian prison.
President Obama, in his historic phone call to Iranian President Rouhani expressed “concern” over the three Americans.
Abedini’s supporters in Congress, however, view Abedini’s move to Rajai Shahr Prison as a sign that the United States will not press Iran for his release as a pre-condition for a deal with the country.
Abedini’s wife, Nagmeh – who has tirelessly campaigned for her husband’s release -- and his two young daughters, live in Idaho.