Release sought for U.S. pastor held one year in Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress, the State Department and the Rev. Billy Graham are urging Iran to release American pastor Saeed Abedini, who was arrested one year ago and sentenced to eight years in prison for undermining state security.
At a prayer rally outside the White House on Thursday, Abedini's supporters said he had only been setting up an orphanage.
A deputy assistant secretary from the State Department, Jane Zimmerman, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Saeed and with his family as we continue our efforts to bring Pastor Abedini home."
Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has confirmed receipt of a letter from Abedini that the pastor's wife hand delivered this week to Iran's U.N. delegation in New York.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Billy Graham published a full-page letter in The New York Times urging Rouhani to free Abedini to ease tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
321-w-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Jane Zimmerman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)--Members of Congress, the State Department and the Reverend Billy Graham are urging Iran to release an American pastor who was arrested one year ago and sentenced to eight years in prison for undermining state security. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (26 Sep 2013)