Incoming Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Iran for its imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini in a written response to a question asked during his confirmation hearing last week.
During the hearing, Sen. Marco Rubio asked Kerry if he would call for Abedini's release. Pastor Abedini was sentenced this week to eight years in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith.
"I, along with the U.S. government, condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right to freedom of religion and call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him," Kerry wrote.
"Mr. Abedini's attorney had only one day on January 21, 2013, to present his defense," Kerry said. "We remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial."
Kerry also pointed out that he joined 11 other senators in expressing their concern for Pastor Abedini in a letter to Secretary Clinton.
The American Center for Law and Justice applauded Kerry's statement.
"John Kerry has the opportunity to lead a worldwide effort needed to free Pastor Saeed," the ACLJ's Jordan Sekulow said. "Nations around the globe look to the U.S. when it comes to standing up and defending religious freedom and human rights."