Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging for the immediate release of imprisoned U.S. citizen, Saeed Abedini.
"Religious freedom is one of the core principles our great nation is built upon, and a principle that we all must work towards ensuring is upheld," Latta wrote.
Saeed Abedini, who is an American citizen and pastor, has been confined in an Iranian prison since September of 2012 because of his Christian beliefs. A hearing was recently held on Friday, March 15th in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to raise awareness on Pastor Abedini's case, as well as the decline of religious freedom in Iran.
The full text of the letter is below:
March 21, 2013
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
Religious freedom is one of the core principles our great nation is built upon, and a principle that we all must work towards ensuring is upheld. Unfortunately, not all nations value this principle and persecute those who do not share their same religious beliefs, as is the case with Iran's government.
During a March 15, 2013 Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing, witnesses spoke in depth on Iran's human rights violations and persecution of religious minorities, including the imprisonment of United States citizen, Saeed Abedini, whose only crime was his belief in Christianity. As you are aware, last September, while on a humanitarian mission in Iran to open an orphanage, Mr. Abedini was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and in January was sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison for his Christian beliefs. At the hearing, Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed Abedini's wife, described the inhumane treatment Mr. Abedini has endured since being imprisoned in Iran, including torture and being forced to renounce his Christianity.
I appreciate your recent statements condemning Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and calling for the release of Mr. Abedini; however, I ask that you continue to use all diplomatic efforts to secure Mr. Abedini's immediate and unconditional release. I thank you for your time and look forward to your response.
Robert E. Latta
Member of Congress