Wife: Jailed American pastor still held in Iran

January 21, 2013 - 7:32 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran's semi-official news agency said Monday that a jailed American pastor of Iranian origin is to be released after posting $116,000 bond, but his wife in the U.S. claims Tehran has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is "a game to silence" international media reports.

The news agency, ISNA, quoted Saeed Abedini's lawyer, Nasser Sarbazi, as saying that his client stood trial Monday in the Revolutionary Court on charges of attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes. The pastor, who was jailed in September, has rejected the charges.

In Tehran, ISNA quoted Sarbazi as saying that the court would issue its verdict later, but that Abedini would be released within the next few days after posting the bail. ISNA said the lawyer indicated that the pastor would be allowed to leave Iran and meet his family in the U.S. Abedini's father attended Monday's court session.

However, the pastor's wife, Naghmeh, said in a statement that the Iranian regime had repeatedly promised to free Abedini on bond, but that he remains in detention.

"After the judge told Saeed's lawyer that bail was back on the table, the family in Tehran ran around in circles today to make sure Saeed was let out on bail," said his wife, who lives near Boise, Idaho. "But again, the bail officer rejected (the) bail."

Her comments were provided by the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, which focuses on constitutional and human rights law around the world. The center is representing the pastor's family in the United States.

She said her husband's lawyer's comments were made before bail was rejected.

"This is a game to silence the international media," she said.

"Pastor Saeed remains in prison," she said. "He has not been released on bail and Iranian authorities continue to refuse to accept the bail presented to secure his release," she said. "We cannot trust the Iranian regime's reported promise to release him and return him to his family until Pastor Saeed is safely back in the U.S."