This past weekend American Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to serve eight years in prison in Iran for preaching Christianity. Abedini, a U.S. citizen from Idaho, has asserted that he was in Iran to establish an orphanage and engage in humanitarian aid, but the Iranian government has claimed that he was in the country to spread Christian teachings. Abedini was detained indefinitely and without any specific charges for an extended period of time; Iran claimed he posed a threat to national security. Congressman Tim Huelskamp, who joined with several of his colleagues to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for U.S. involvement on Abedini's behalf , condemned the conviction and called for his immediate release:
"What type of national security threat does a pastor pose to Iran? Even if Saeed Abedini were preaching a Christian message, which he claims he was not, what type of threat is that? The safest and strongest nations in the world are places where individuals can freely express their religious beliefs; in contrast, only in dangerous places is religious liberty stifled. National security is at stake when regimes like Iran's impose severe and inhumane restrictions on religious expression. I call on President Obama and the State Department to stand firm for Abedini's immediate release."