Over 80 Senators and Representatives Urge State Dept. to ‘Exhaust Every Option’ in Release of Abedini from Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–February 14, 2013. Today, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Congressmen Trent Franks (R-AZ), Co-Chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with over eighty colleagues from the Senate and House, sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry and urged him to exhaust every possible option to secure U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini’s release from Iran.

“The Iranian regime must immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Saeed,” said Senator Mark Kirk. “Iran’s decision to sentence a pastor to eight years in prison simply for practicing his religion reflects the regime’s flagrant disregard for basic human rights.  As Americans, we cannot tolerate such violations of personal freedom, especially against our own citizens.  I am proud to join my colleagues in sending a strong message of solidarity to Pastor Saeed and all Iranian dissidents.”

“The case of Saeed Abedini is one example of the continued, egregious violations of religious freedom in Iran, and he should be released immediately,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, author of the Lautenberg Amendment on refugees. “This case also shows why programs like the Lautenberg Amendment are critical for religious minorities in Iran fleeing persecution, and Congress must act to reauthorize the Amendment.  As President Ahmadinejad maintains his oppressive rule in Iran, we must continue to provide religious minorities with a safe means of exit and access to refugee status in the United States.”

“The overwhelming bipartisanship of our congressional letter to Secretary of State Kerry demonstrates the serious implications of Saeed Abedini’s case in Iran and the need for swift action by our State Department,” said Congressman Trent Franks. “When a U.S. citizen is unjustly detained and imprisoned—particularly in Iran, a country with no respect for rule of law or fundamental human rights—the State Department should come vigorously to his or her defense.  As Secretary Kerry assumes his new position at State Department, the Saeed Abedini case deserves his immediate and personal attention.”

“Pastor Abedini’s case exemplifies Iran’s flagrant violation of human rights and religious freedom,” said Congressman Henry Waxman. “We hope that this letter, with its deep support from all across America, will show Saeed Abedini that he is not alone and that we have not forgotten him.”

Source: kirk.senate.gov