The accusation against Mr Abedini dates back to the year 2000, when he converted to Christianity. According to the official case file, which his lawyer only received in January 2013, despite the fact that his client has been detained since September 2012, the charge is based primarily on Mr Abedini’s past leadership position in a house church network.
Mr Abedini was detained on 26 September 2012, after security officers raided his parent’s home and was taken to Evin prison, where he was held in solitary confinement, before being moved to a general prison within the political section of Evin Prison in November 2012. He is reported to have suffered physical assaults on several occasions, and has also been subject to psychological pressure.
On several occasions, Mr Abedini’s family was promised he would be released on bail; however this did not materialize. The authorities had earlier demanded 400 million Tomans (equivalent to approximately USD$330,000) for his release.
Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said, “CSW is deeply concerned by the lack of due process in Mr Abedini’s case. There should be no doubt that while the charges against Mr Abedini are couched in political terms, in reality these charges stem from his conversion and from exercising the freedom to worship in communion with others in accordance with article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We urge the Iranian authorities to uphold the rule of law, review the sentence handed down to Mr Abedini, and respect the principle of freedom of religion and belief, as outlined in the ICCPR, to which Iran is signatory.”