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Family of Christian Pastor Held in Iran Pleading with State Department

Supporters of the American pastor held in Iran and facing a possible death sentence for his faith say the State Department is not doing enough to win his release.

Supporters of the American pastor held in Iran and facing a possible death sentence for his faith say the State Department is not doing enough to win his release.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, a Christian minister and American citizen who lives in Boise Idaho with his wife and two young children, has been held in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison since September for allegedly evangelizing in his native country. Despite being held for months before formal charges were revealed at his trial this week, the State Department has not issued a statement or made any public demand that Iran release him, say his supporters.

"Every day counts. He is being tortured. They (State Department) can do so much more," said Abedini's wife, Naghmeh Abedini. "I've been so heartbroken. It's as though we are letting the Iranian government lead with their interpretation of what he's done wrong instead of protecting our American ideals."

Last week about 50 members of the House of Representatives signed and delivered a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office urging her to leave "no stone unturned" in her efforts to bring Pastor Saeed back home. Rep. Trent Franks, (R-Ariz.), said the State Department is ignoring its most basic duty by not doing more to help Abedini, 32.

"If our own State Department fails to advocate for a U.S. citizen who faces injustice in a country that is widely regarded as one of the most egregious human rights abusers, then I believe they have failed in one of their most fundamental responsibilities to American citizens," said Franks, who chairs the House Bipartisan International Religious Freedom Caucus. "Every U.S. citizen should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to their defense in a time of need, especially when they are unjustly tried in a foreign country. At the very least, Secretary Clinton should publicly call for the unequivocal release of Saeed Abedini."

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