TEHRAN/LOS ANGELES (BosNewsLife)-- An American pastor who was detained in Iran after staging a protest outside a Tehran prison to demand the release of Iranian Christians, will return to the United States Wednesday, October 23, his daughter told reporters.
Eddie Romero, 63, called his family early Tuesday morning, October 22, from the Swiss Embassy in Tehran saying he would arrive on a Turkish Airlines flight in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Yetter said.
Californian Romero, who founded the advocacy group Exodus8one, crossed into Iran from Turkey on October 14 as part of a tourist group.
But he broke away from the group last Thursday, October 17, to demonstrate outside the notorious Evin Prison against the imprisonment of four Iranian Christians and a human rights activist.
Yetter said her father demanded the release of Christians Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini, Mostafa Bordbar, Alireza Seyyedian and Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, a lawyer who has been fighting for religious and political rights in the strict Islamic nation.
Soon, Pastor Eddie was taken into custody by Iranian security forces but eventually transferred to the Swiss embassy.
The U.S. State Department said it was "aware of the reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in Iran" but "due to privacy consideration, have no further comments or details this time."
His daughter said in published remarks that her father had told his family not not to reach out to the U.S. government for help when he was detained, "because he did not want to be seen as a political or nationalistic person, representing the United States."
She told Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News that part of her father's "message and his heart behind all this is that he wants the church and the Christians in Iran to know that they are not alone, but that the world stands with them."
She said her father and his family are "very proud of having brothers and sisters that have sacrificed so much for the gospel of Jesus, and who are teaching us in America what it means to live a life of faith."
This wasn't the pastor's first troubles with government security forces. In 2008, Romero was detained in China during the Beijing Olympics after demanding the release of five Chinese activists.
In Beijing, Romero painted on the walls of a hotel room and then went on the run for 21 days before surrendering in Tiananmen Square.
Chinese authorities held Romero for some 24 hours before putting him on a flight home, Yetter explained.
She said that though his father has contacts with advocacy groups, he usually works alone undercover because of the risks involved in his work. Romero retired as a pastor from Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente, California, in July.
He founded Exodus8one in 2008 and is currently a world religion and philosophy professor at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California, American media reported.