Leader Cantor Demands Freedom for Prisoners of Conscience in Iran

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) issued the following statement on Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American citizen currently in prison in Tehran, Iran:

"I want to thank the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for holding this important hearing and for shining a light on Iran's brutal repression of its own people. I also want to express my sympathies to Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who languishes today inside Iran's notorious Evin Prison for the crime of practicing Christianity.

"Many Americans understand that Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability poses a threat to its neighbors and to the United States. And many others know that Iran is the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, and provides lethal support to Hizballah, HAMAS, and other radical terrorist groups.

"Less appreciated is the grave and continuing threat the brutal regime in Tehran poses to its own people. Iran's clerical regime relies on surveillance, intimidation, repression, and violence to punish and control political dissent. But the gross human rights abuses in Iran are not confined to those who publicly challenge the authoritarian nature of the regime or dare to express their personal political views. The regime commits atrocities against those whose only crime is that they seek to exercise their inherent right to practice their own religion. Christians, Jews, Baha'i, and Muslim minorities alike have been targeted by Iran's radical Shiite government for doing little more than praying to their own god.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Saeed and all of Iran's prisoners of conscience, and we call today for their immediate release."

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