Congress pushes for release of American pastor imprisoned in Iran

saeedBy Katherine Burgess

WASHINGTON (RNS) Congress is pressing for the release of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran for his religious beliefs since September 2012.

On Wednesday (Nov. 20) the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bipartisan resolution condemning Iran’s persecution of religious minorities and urging Abedini’s immediate release.  The resolution will now go to the full House.

The Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution Nov. 14.

The U.S. and Iran are conducting talks in Geneva aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program, and those backing Abedini hope the time is right for his freedom.

“It is important especially with the nuclear negotiations in Geneva that Congress speak out with one voice on behalf of pastor Abedini in support of his immediate release,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican.