US Christian pastor freed by Iran says he was tortured

US Christian pastor freed after US-Iran prisoner swap says he was beaten by interrogators when he refused to write something he did not do

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho is pictured with Congressman Robert Pittenger at Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Landstuhl, Germany, in this undated handout photo provided by Congressman Robert Pittenger, on January 20, 2016.

Saeed Abedini, one of prisoners freed this month, after the Iran-US prisoner swap, from Iran's Evin Prison, said on Monday in an interview he was tortured and beaten by Iranian interrogators.

"Yes, in interrogation once they beat me very badly because they wanted me to write something I didn't do ... Actually it was in a courtroom that the judge closed the door and the interrogators started beating me, and at that time I got a stomach bleeding," he told American basic cable and satellite news television channel Fox News.

Abedini also said that prison officers left him in solitary confinement for refusing to sign a false confession and he saw other prisoner being taken to be hanged.

"The worst thing that I saw was when they took some Sunnis for execution...Most of them were Sunnis, some of them were political prisoners... I can say most were executed for their faith."

Abedini noted that he was left with an Al Qaeda prisoner who tried to kill him and watched people screaming and crying while taken to be hanged.

The Billy Graham Training Centre at the Cove, founded by the famous evangelical minister and his family, said Abedini wanted time to adjust and reconnect with his family after more than three years of imprisonment in Iran.

Spokesman for the centre said that Abedini was supposed to be reunited with his family on Monday at a Christian centre, but it was delayed because of family’s travel plans have been ever-changing.

Naghmeh, Abedini's wife, said in a message to supporters that her husband had been abusive and suffered from pornography addiction.

Franklin Graham who is the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and an American Christian evangelist and son of Billy Graham declined to comment on the issue when Abedini arrived in Asheville.

35-year-old a naturalised US citizen Abedini was imprisoned in September 2012 and January 2013 and was sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly compromising Iran's national security by setting up home-based Christian churches.

Abedini was one of five Americans released by Iran in exchange for clemency for seven Iranians who have been convicted or are facing trial in the United States.

The swap was announced at the same time as the international sanctions on Iran were lifted in a deal with the United States and other major powers to curb Tehran's nuclear program.


TRTWorld and agencies