BOISE -- A pastor from Boise is being held in prison in Iran for the second time in less than five years. His lawyer said it's because of his Christian beliefs.
The American Center for Law and Justice is representing Saeed Abedini's family here in the United States. ACLJ is also launching a campaign to get the United Nations, US State Department, and Congress to demand Abedini's release.
KTVB took video of Abedini and his family in 2009, when he got back from another incident in the Middle East. In 2009, he was held in Tehran for about two months and threatened with his life for helping Christians meet in underground churches. The ACLJ said an Iranian court indicted Abedini, and he could face a long prison term, or even the death penalty.
His family is hoping for another happy end the story again this time.
"It's very difficult for me and the kids, first time daddy's away. And I just plead that we do what we can to get him out of Iran and with the family again, with our family and with the kids," said Naghmeh Panahi, Saeed Abedini's wife, on the Jordan Sekulow Show.
Panahi said Abedini was born in Iran, and came from a strong Muslim faith. He converted to Christianity in 2000. The ACLJ said he became an ordained minister in 2008. Abedini gained US citizenship when he married Naghmeh Panahi in 2010.
However, the Iranian government does not recognize Abedini's US citizenship. His lawyers said he was visiting family this September when he was arrested and placed in an Iranian prison.
"We've got a US citizen that's being detained in a horrible facility in Iran and we've got to do everything we can globally to get him released, because right now, Sean, the situation is grave," said Jay Sekulow, from ACLJ, on Sean Hannity's show on FOX News.
Sekulow said the prison where Abedini is being held is notoriously brutal. Abedini and his wife Panahi have two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. His wife said he last made contact with his family over the phone Wednesday morning.
The specifics of what Abedini is charged with have not been made public.