According to the Christian Post, Kerry told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) when asked for his response to Pastor Abedini's case, "We remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial," "I, along with the U.S. government, condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him."
The 8-year sentencing of Adedini to the Evin Prison, one of the harshest prisons in Tehran, was issued by Judge Pir-Abassi, known as the "hanging judge." The ACLJ which represents Abedini called the trial a “sham” and plans to appeal the decision.
American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said in a statement to The Christian Post:
"This is a very positive sign that the incoming Secretary of State understands the important nature of the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran and now facing years of beatings and torture simply because of his faith," "By condemning Iran and calling for the release of Pastor Saeed, Sen. Kerry, who has now been confirmed and will take the oath of office soon, has the opportunity to lead a worldwide effort needed to free Pastor Saeed. Nations around the globe look to the U.S. when it comes to standing up and defending religious freedom and human rights," he added.
Abedini – who grew up in Iran before converting to Christianity at the age of 20 – traveled with his family back and forth between Iran and the U.S. several times in the past few years to meet his family and for Christian work. During one such trip in 2009, he was detained by Iranian officials and interrogated for his conversion. While he was released with a warning against engaging in any more underground church activities, he was once again arrested last July while working on a non-sectarian orphanage project.
The ACLJ have been on the frontlines of campaigning for Pastor Abedini, and a petition it started calling for his release has gathered over 250,000 signatures from people around the world.
Sekulow added that the State Department's involvement in the case can make a "tremendous difference" in the case, and it hopes that Abedini's wife and two young children will be able to see him free back home in Idaho.
Naghmeh Abedini added in her statement that she and her children pray for their father every day. They've been praying every night, and every day they ask is Daddy coming home today? And I didn't want to take that hope away from them and with all the help and support he will come home soon."
In a similar case, Youcef Nadarkhani, thirty-five-year-old Christian pastor, was released unexpectedly after being held in prison for almost three years. Nadarkhani was also represented by the American Center for Law and Justice,
The ACLJ worked with the State Department in efforts to win Nadarkhani’s freedom, and earlier in 2012 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning his imprisonment and calling for his immediate release. In addition, nearly three million Twitter users voiced their support for Nadarkhani through the "Tweet for Youcef" campaign.
Click here to learn more about Pastor Nadarkhani’s release which may provide some hope for Pastor Abedini and those who believe in the power of prayer.