Billy Graham Asks Iran’s New President to Free Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini

Evangelist Billy Graham has posted an open letter to recently-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on his ministry’s website, asking him to free Christian pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Abedini being sent to prison for unspecified charges of endangering Iran’s national security. Abedini’s case has been the subject of international scrutiny, with more than 650,000 people (including Secretary of State John Kerry) signing a petition requesting his release. In his letter, Graham said, “Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions.”

President Hassan Rouhani recently made headlines after he wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, saying that he hopes that the United States and Iran would be able to “work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart.” So far, Rouhani’s tone has been starkly different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At his first U.N. speech this week, Rouhani offered to negotiate with U.S. officials over the country’s controversial nuclear program, and in an interview with CNN, he further diverted from the rhetoric of Ahmadinejad, who famously called the holocaust a myth. Rouhani told CNN that “the crime the Nazis created toward the Jews is reprehensible and condemnable.” So far, Rouhani’s administration is yet to issue a response to Graham’s letter …

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