A La Puente pastor detained by Iranian authorities after protesting outside a Tehran prison is now at a Swiss embassy and is expected to fly home soon, according to his group's website.
Pastor Eddie Romero was detained Monday morning in Tehran as he protested outside Evin Prison, his daughter told reporters at a news conference. Sarah Yetter said her father went to Iran to protest the "unlawful detention" of five people she identified as Christians and human rights activists.
When asked about Romero at a daily press briefing Tuesday in Washington,
Romero, who recently retired from Hacienda Christian Fellowship, is the founder of the organization Exodus8one. He has twice been arrested for protests, his daughter said -- at the 2008
Yetter said her father broke from his tour group Thursday in Iran and "went into hiding" before Monday's demonstration, which he recorded and live-streamed using a hidden iPhone. The roughly 36-minute recording depicted Romero reciting Scripture and the names of the prisoners, his daughter said, along with, "Let my people go!"
Romero then "surrendered willingly" and was taken inside the prison's gates, Yetter said.
Once inside, Romero told officials he was not representing a country and repeated his appeal for the prisoners, Yetter said, citing the recording. He was questioned in English, she said, but Farsi-speaking guards indicated confusion over whether he was there to protest or visit a prisoner.
Romero apparently indicated to the guards he had a phone, telling them they were "being broadcast everywhere," Yetter said. The recording ended as the guards made plans to bring in a translator, she said.
Yetter stressed that her father was not protesting the religion or people of Iran but rather a "government that claims sovereignty in order to close doors against outside observers."
"Those Iranian pastors and women and men of faith are like family to him even though he has never met them.... They belong to the same family of faith," Yetter said. "He simply could not go into retirement and sit idly by as his brothers and sisters ... waste away in prison."
A status update posted Tuesday afternoon on Exodus8one's website said Romero had been held for about 32 hours and was expected to fly home within 12.