According to Mohabat News, Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian Christian convert, appeared at his first trial, while public access to the court room was denied. The court was held on Monday, January 22, 2013, in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, and judged by Mr. Pir-Abbasi.
The court announced Mr. Abedini's charges as "creating house-churches aimed to disturb national security and conspiring to commit crime".
The pastor's attorney, Mr. Naser Sarbazi, said in an interview with the pro-regime website, ISNA, that they had rejected these charges in court. He also stated that he presented appropriate defenses before the court.
According to Mr. Sarbazi's remarks, the court process to review the case is complete and the court is expected to issue its verdict within the legal timeframe.
He added, based on some comments made at the court, the pastor will be released on bail and there would be no problem for him to leave the country! He said this while the same promise for Pastor Abedini's release on bail was made to his family many times, without any practical action following it.
Regarding Mr. Abedini's release, his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, believes that this is just a game to keep international media quiet. It seems that Mr. Abedini's attorney was asked to make these remarks concerning his release.
Prior to this, judicial authorities had asked for bail of 400 million Tomans (roughly 330,000 USD) for his release.
Reports received at Mohabat News indicate that only Mr. Abedini's lawyer was allowed in the court room on his first trial on Monday. His father was also allowed in the court for a few brief moments before the judge asked him to leave the room. His mother, however, was not allowed to enter court at all. She was not even given permission to have a short visit with her son.
News sources told Mohabat News that after hearing his charges, Mr. Abedini referred to the Bible stressing that he had merely done his spiritual tasks and that he had never been involved in political activities. He said what he has done is simply following his Lord Jesus Christ.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the judge was impressed by Mr. Abedini's statement at times.
The Iranian constitution recognizes religious minorities' rights, including Christians. However, the Iranian regime prosecutes Christian converts from an Islamic background.
Before Pastor Abedini appeared at his first trial, some senior political figures of the United States expressed their concern over the handling of his case, asking that he be given permission to have an attorney. According to reports, he did not have access to a lawyer until at most three weeks ago.
As the Pastor's wife, Naghmeh Abedini says, he was first arrested in 2009 during a trip to Iran. However, he was released under the condition that he would not conduct any undercover religious activities in Iran. Pastor Abedini had travelled to Iran many times since 2009, without breaking this condition.
Pastor Abedini was arrested during this trip to Iran to "visit his family and continue efforts to establish an orphanage in Iran". He has been in Evin prison since September 26, 2012.
Also, he is a Christian convert who accepted Christ many years ago in Iran.