American pastor imprisoned for his faith while visiting Iran

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TEHRAN, Iran — A 32-year-old Iranian pastor, a U.S. citizen and a Christian convert from Islam, has been imprisoned without notice of any formal charges while visiting his family in Iran.

The American Center for Law and Justice is representing Saeed Abedini, who was arrested in September and then charged for threatening the national security of Iran and espionage, due to his involvement with Christian house churches and foreign Christian satellite TV ministries.

ACLJ is calling on the international community, the U.S. State Department, Congress and the United Nations to demand Pastor Abedini's release.

According to Fox News, this was Abedini's ninth trip since 2009 to visit family and to continue his humanitarian work on developing a non-sectarian orphanage in the city of Rasht on a family-owned land plot.

Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, told Fox News that her husband converted at the age of 20, after becoming severely depressed from undergoing suicide bomber training by a radical Muslim group.

Abedini, 32, was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010. He and his wife, Naghmeh, have two children, a 6- year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

In 2008, Abedini became an ordained minister with the American Evangelistic Association. Naghmeh and the children reside in the western United States.

Although the Iranian government does not recognize his U.S. citizenship, for three years Abedini traveled freely back and forth between the U.S. and Iran—until this fall when he was put under house arrest.

Abedini is being held in solitary confinement and could possibly face the death penalty.

In a recent letter to his family from prison, Abedini said the following:

"Prison is a test of faith. I was always worried that the storms of this life would break the ship of faith, but when you stand in the steadfast ship of faith, the storms are like a nice breeze. Nothing can break the ship of faith. These walls have created more fervor for me to love others through sharing the Gospel, but more than that, the walls have deepened my love for my Savior. I feel the prayers of all who are praying for me. I hope to one day meet each one of them face to face and embrace them in my arms."