/ Agencies) - Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin who converted to
Christianity arrested in September on a trip to his native country risks the
death penalty. The
man, 32, is accused of undermining national security. His wife Naghmeh
Abedini has reported the news. According
to the woman, her husband's trial will begin on January 21 and will be chaired
by Abbas Pir-Abassi, a judge of the revolutionary court accused of human rights
violations for the harsh sentences handed down to the young protagonists in the
2009 demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In
2010 he condemned Jila Baniyaghoob, journalist and human rights activist to 30
years in prison.
Born in Iran, Saeed Abedini has lived for years in the States with his wife and two children, but has maintained close ties with his country of origin. The problems with the Iranian authorities began in 2009 after his conversion to Christianity.
During a visit the police arrested him, but released him after a few months, making him sign a document where the man promised not to proselytize or carry out religious activities. After this episode Abedini visited Iran nine more times, without any problems. In recent years he was helping some friends to build an orphanage in a small town in the north of the country. During the last trip in September 2012, the police again arrested him, accusing him of violating the agreement.
In recent months, Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the American Secretary of State, urged the Iranian government to grant the man a lawyer. But according to his wife, no lawyer has ever visited her husband.
The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of some religious minorities, including Christians, but also punishes Muslims who change religion with death.