A Boise pastor who was accused of proselytizing in his home country of Iran where it is illegal to preach Christianity to try to convert someone has been sentenced to eight years in prison, according to the American Center for Law and Justice and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch's office.
Saeed Abedini was found guilty of "threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches," the American Center for Law and Justice reported Sunday on its Web site.
Brad Hoaglun, a spokesman for Idaho U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, said Risch's office confirmed the sentencing. Risch's office is working to get more information about the situation. Hoaglun said the charge Abedini faced stemmed from his involvement in fostering house churches in 2009.
On Abedini's Facebook page, his wife, Naghmeh, asked for prayers.
"The battle is the Lord's and he will deliver and he will be glorified. That is our prayers. Please pray for our family as we have heard the news of Saeed's sentencing to 8 years in prison. God bless you all," she wrote in a posting Sunday morning.
Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, called the ruling by Judge Pir-Abassi a travesty and a "mockery of justice."
From the very beginning, Iranian authorities have lied about all aspects of this case, even releasing rumors of his expected release," Sekulow said in the Sunday release. "Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights. We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed.
The 32-year-old father of two traveled to Iran to visit family and to help build an orphanage. He was put under house arrest in June, then imprisoned in September.
Abedini is an ordained pastor through the Calvary Chapel church in Boise. Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo signed letters urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take action, as have Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson.
Saeed and his attorney were permitted to attend just one day of his trial, which began Monday, Jan. 21, according to the ACLJ. During his imprisonment, Saeed was beaten and tortured.
Abedini was held in Iran in 2009 before being released and promising not to continue Christian humanitarian efforts there.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413