Abedini, of Boise's Calvary Chapel Church, is one of three Americans being held in Iran. He was taken into custody in June 2012, detained in a Tehran prison in September 2012, and ultimately sentenced to eight years confinement in January 2013, charged by Iranian authorities with "undermining the national security of Iran" by proselytizing Christianity—a serious offense under the nation's conservative Islamist government. Abedini, who was born in Iran, maintained he was in the country visiting family and working to build orphanages.
“The government of Iran continues to violate Pastor Abedini’s human rights through his imprisonment and abuse. Pastor Abedini’s only crime is to peacefully exercise his faith and work to help meet the needs of the poor and most vulnerable in Iran," Risch wrote in a press statement. "It is past time for Iran to release Pastor Saeed Abedini.”
Abedini pleaded his case before the Tehran appeals court in August 2013, but was denied. The 33-year-old was transferred earlier this month from Tehran's Evin Prison, where he was jailed with other political prisoners, to Rajai Shahr Prison, which human rights organizations describe as an extremely brutal facility with high levels of inmate-on-inmate violence.
His wife, Naghmeh, and children live in the Boise area.