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More Than 80 Members Of Congress Call On Sec. Of State Kerry To Seek Release Of American Pastor Imprisoned In Iran

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional and human rights law, today applauded a bi-partisan Congressional call for Secretary of State John Kerry to "exhaust every option" in seeking the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is facing a lengthy prison sentence in Iran because of his Christian faith.

More than 80 U.S. Senators and Representatives have sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging him "to exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini's immediate release."

"This is a significant bi-partisan effort to secure the freedom of a U.S. citizen who faces incredible torture and life-threatening punishment in one of Iran's most brutal prisons – simply because of his Christian beliefs," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "This letter from a politically broad spectrum of members of Congress underscores the real issue here: the U.S. government must protect its citizens and exercise every diplomatic tool available to secure the freedom of Pastor Saeed. We are very grateful for this Congressional support and urge Secretary Kerry to act without delay. Pastor Saeed's life hangs in the balance. Secretary Kerry's personal involvement in this case is critical to securing the freedom of this American."

The ACLJ represents Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children who live in the United States.

The letter, which is posted here, calls on Secretary of State Kerry to engage this case directly and without delay.

"As an American citizen, Mr. Abedini deserves nothing less than the exercising of every diplomatic tool of the U.S. government to defend his basic human rights," the letter states.

"Every American citizen traveling or living abroad should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to his or her defense if they are unjustly detained or imprisoned. We respectfully request that you continue to use every diplomatic avenue possible, in cooperation with our allies and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to secure Mr. Abedini's unconditional release and personally and publically condemn his arbitrary detention in a statement."

Taking the lead in this Congressional request is Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Co-Chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with over 80 members of the House and Senate, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Congresswoman Shea-Porter (D-NH).

The letter urges Secretary of State Kerry to exhaust every possible option to secure Pastor Saeed's release.

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