Saeed's Wife: Every Day in Prison a Death Sentence

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Saeed Abedini, the pastor jailed in Iran for his faith, is reportedly in a new wing of Evin prison and receiving better medical care, according to family in Tehran.

Abedini was sentenced Sunday to eight years in Evin prison, one of the most brutal in Iran.

"Every day in that prison is a death sentence," his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, said. "It's a horrific prison and anything can happen."

Now that Pastor Abedini has been sentenced, she will no longer be able to speak to her husband by phone.

Naghmeh, who lives in the United States with her children, told CBN News she's focusing her attention on fighting for his release.

Sign the petition to free American Pastor Saeed in Iran.

"The U.S Department is now in contact with me on a daily basis. They did release statements, both the U.S. Department of State and the White House, that they would do whatever resources they had internally and also internationally, they would use to get Saeed out of Iran," she said.

"And they demanded the Iranian government release Saeed, which was a powerful statement," she added. "I appreciate them for doing that, and we're working with them to see what avenues are available to us to get Saeed out."

CBN News's Jennifer Wishon asked White House press secretary Jay Carney about Pastor Abedini's plight at Monday's briefing.

"Given the lack of diplomatic relations the U.S. has with Iran, what realistically can the administration do in this case and other cases like it?" Wishon asked. "Should his family have any hope that there is anything the U.S. can do to help in the situation?"

"We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to release Mr. Abedini," he replied.

"As you know, the State Department is in close contact with the Abedini family and is actively engaged in this case," he continued. "For further date details, I think the State Department is the best place to go."

"We obviously have a variety of means, including this podium, to express our views on matters like this and we are very concerned about this, about the process that led to this," he said.

"Mr. Abedini's attorney had only one day (January 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial," a spokesperson for the State Department told CBN News.

"The Iranian authorities do not recognize the U.S. citizenship of dual U.S.-Iranian nationals; therefore, they have not permitted consular access despite our requests," the spokesperson said.

The American Center for Law and Justice is representing Naghmeh and her children. Tiffany Barans, ACLJ's international legal director, said she welcomes the government's statements but said they need to do more.

"Our government needs to take the lead on standing for religious freedom and making sure that every back door channel, every third party connection and government can uphold its rights of the citizens in Iran," she said. "But also world citizens like Pastor Saeed, and so we do hope that our government will take that stand."

Naghmeh Abedini said her husband plans to appeal his sentence. She has asked all believers to gather together and cry out to God on her family's behalf.

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