Iran sends jailed US pastor to ‘hanging judge’
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Tehran officials refer case of jailed American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini to judge sanctioned by EU for human rights violations.
BERLIN – Iranian authorities have recently assigned the case of imprisoned
American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini to a Tehran judge sanctioned by the
European Union for human rights violations.
Jordan Sekulow, the executive
director of the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Thursday saying, “This development
underscores our growing concern for Pastor Saeed. In a country that’s hostile to
human rights and religious freedom, the news that Pastor Saeed’s case has now
been handed over to one of Iran’s most notorious judges is deeply troubling. In
a real sense, Pastor Saeed is an American abandoned in Iran.”
advocates religious freedom in the US and abroad and has served as a watchdog
for the persecution of Christians in the Islamic Republic.
It noted that
Judge Pir-Abassi, who is overseeing Saeed’s legal process, is “notorious for his
harsh sentences against those who exercise their fundamental freedoms. In the
international law arena, Judge Pir- Abassi is often referred to as one of Iran’s
‘hanging judges’ for the numerous individuals he has sent to the
The European Union listed Pir-Abassi in 2011 as an individual
subject to sanctions for human rights violations. The US Commission on
International Religious Freedom recommended to the State Department in its 2012
annual report that Washington issue similar sanctions against Pir-Abassi.
According to the commission, Pir-Abassi is “responsible for
particularly severe violations of religious freedom” and the US should “continue
to bar [him] from entry into the United States and freeze [his and his immediate
family members’] assets.”
However, Washington has done little thus far in
regards to Abedini, Sekulow told the Post.
“To date, the US State
Department has done very little regarding this case. We continue to push the
State Department to engage on behalf of a US citizen who faces grave danger in
Iran. The State Department needs to do much more, including using all diplomatic
ties with friends of Iran to see that Pastor Saeed is returned home,” he
Meanwhile, the British human rights organization Amnesty
International criticized the Saudi Arabian government on Wednesday for the
“beheading of a Sri Lankan domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for a crime she
allegedly committed while still a child.”
The killing “shows once more
that the Gulf kingdom is woefully out of step with international standards on
the death penalty,” Amnesty said.
According to the human rights
organization, “Rizana Nafeek was executed in Dawadmi, a town west of the Saudi
Arabian capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning. Her death sentence had been handed
down by a Dawadmi court on June 16, 2007, based on allegations that she murdered
an infant in her care when she herself was 17 years old.”
Amnesty and the
Sri Lankan government asked for “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah – who ratified her
death sentence – to show clemency in her case, given her young age at the time
of the alleged crime as well as concerns she had received an unfair
Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs website noted that
President Rajapaksa and the government of Sri Lanka “deplore” her beheading.