Fox News
December 19, 2012

American pastor imprisoned while visiting family in Iran

Guests: Naghmeh Abedini, Jay Sekulow

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: A 32-year-old American pastor, the Reverend Saeed Abedini, has been detained by one of Iran's most notorious prisons since late September for charges that have not been made public, other than that he is a convert Christian. He was born in Iran and granted U.S. citizenship in 2010, after marrying an American woman.

Since then, he has traveled back to Iran to visit family multiple times and has been questioned for his Christian work throughout the country. Now he is being held, physically and emotionally abused, and could face a lengthy prison term or possibly the death penalty.

Now the American Center for Law & Justice has gotten involved in hopes of having him released. So where is the Obama administration, the U.N., the State Department?

Joining me now to share their story is the wife of the reverend, Naghmeh Abedini, and from the American Center for Law & Justice, Jay Sekulow. Thank you both for being with us. Naghmeh, let me start with you. Obviously, he has gone back and forth here, had little problems, but not big problems. What happened in this case that was different?

NAGHMEH ABEDINI, WIFE OF REVEREND ABEDINI: I believe that this time, the Revolutionary Guard has been handling Saeed's case and previously, the intelligence police was. I believe the recent change from the intelligence police to the revolutionary guard has changed the way they have been treating Christians and Christian activities in Iran.

HANNITY: Right. Jay, not different from what we see happening, Coptic Christians are persecuted in Egypt. A lot of Christians in the Muslim world -- this is not uncommon. It's happening more and more as a matter of fact as we see the rise of radicalism. What have you found out in this particular case? Do you have access to him?

JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW & JUSTICE: His lawyers have been denied access to him actually in Iran. The real troubling thing is -- first of all, we are talking about a U.S. citizen. Sean, you mentioned that we did not have State Department help right now. We are now -- this is the first time this has gone public.

This is a story that came out today, it was posted on foxnews.com. She is a Fox News contributor and been working with Tiffany Barons from our office. What we have right now, Sean, is a situation not unlike (INAUDIBLE) who was eventually released, will take international pressure.

The crimes alleged here -- are not public, they have not indicted, but it's because he's a Christian. The Islamic regimes have continued to crack down in Iran and in Egypt. The Coptic Christians in Egypt are having an awful time.

But in this particular case we have the unique situation where you have a U.S. citizen. We have a U.S. citizen that's being detained in a horrible facility, jail, in Iran, and we have got to do everything we can globally to get him released because right now, the situation is grave for anybody in this situation.

But again, we have a U.S. citizen, who is being not only penalized but held, not only against his will, but you don't know what is happening to him. His wife, you are talking to right now and family is missing their husband. It is Christmas.

This administration, the Obama administration needs to come out publicly. They can do it through various sources that deal directly with Iran. We are asking governments that deal with Iran to do just that.

HANNITY: When is the last time you have spoken to your husband?

ABEDINI: Actually it was this morning. By some miracle, he called his family's house in Iran and they were able to call from another cell phone and we got to speak through phone to phone. He was desperately wanting to hear our kids' voice and he got to --

HANNITY: Go ahead. What did he say? Was he able to talk? I assume he was being monitored?

ABEDINI: Yes. You know, he has been hoping for the last few months to try to get out on bail. He is -- gone through some harsh treatments there. He had me put the phone on my daughter's ears and she was half asleep, it was 5:00 in the morning. He told her, daddy loves you. And she had been wondering for weeks and weeks if he had grown a beard. She had missed hearing his voice. She said, mommy, I am forgetting daddy's voice. So he got to --

HANNITY: How do you know that he's being -- go ahead. I'm sorry.

ABEDINI: He got -- he got to say, daddy loves you and I do have a beard. It's grown out pretty big. He got to talk to her and he was pretty happy about that. It was, only lasted a few minutes.

HANNITY: How do you know he's being abused, besides the fact he's being held against his will and persecuted for religious reasons?

ABEDINI: Just -- we have had a few phone to phones and a few weeks ago, he told me -- there is prisoners hurting him and there was a couple of rounds of interrogators, the second round had hit him and had -- had physically abused him. And so he mentioned that.

HANNITY: Yes. Jay --

SEKULOW: This prison is known for this. This prison is known for this.

HANNITY: Yes. You're working with attorneys --

SEKULOW: This is one of the worst in Iran. Yes, it's bad. We have, like I said, global pressure. I appreciate you bringing this to light tonight. It will take global pressure to get the pastor released this, U.S. citizen, I should also say, released from Iranian jail.

HANNITY: We will continue to monitor it. I hope you can get him home by Christmas. Ma'am, thank you for being with us. We wish you all the best, you and your family.

SEKULOW: Thank you, Sean.

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