The wife of the Rev. Saeed Abedini, a naturalized U.S. citizen currently imprisoned in Iran, continues to call on the Obama administration to demand her husband’s release after 444 days in captivity.
While his wife Naghmeh Abedini said she was “thankful” that Obama expressed “concern” for her husband, she said that the U.S. government “has abandoned him.”
Christianity in Iran is not afforded the same level of government protection as Islam, seen most recently in the case of Christians being sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking wine as part of communion. While the government claims to give Christians equal rights, the human rights record speaks for itself.
Naghmeh Abedini said she feels abandoned because the Obama administration has yet to publicly demand the release of her husband during a House Foreign Affairs joint subcommittee hearing on Thursday, according to The Washington Times.
She said that she was “devastated” when she learned that Obama did not demand the release of her husband as a condition for negotiations surrounding the economic sanctions on Iran related to the short-term nuclear deal.
“My husband is suffering because he is a Christian,” Mrs. Abedini said. “He is suffering because he is an American.”
“Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table,” she said, according to ABC News.
Mrs. Abedini told The Christian Post that she would “actually approve and be supportive” of sanctions on Iran as part of negotiations aimed at freeing her husband along with the others who are being held as prisoners of conscience.
“They’ve asked what if there was an increase in sanctions. I don’t think things could get any worse for my husband with increased sanctions,” she said, adding that they could help show the Iranian government how important the issue is.
Abedini was first arrested on Sept. 26, 2012 while visiting Iran with Iranian government permission in order to continue his work at an orphanage in the Iranian city of Rasht near the Capsian Sea.
The U.S. State Department said that he was arrested “on charges related to his religious beliefs.”
Mrs. Abedini said that he was told he would be set free if he converts back to Islam, according to ABC News.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in March that he was “deeply concerned” about Saeed Abedini’s fate, adding that the “best outcome for Mr. Abedini is that he be immediately released.”
Abedini, who was born in Iran and converted to Christianity from Islam, used to live in Iran and planted some 100 underground churches for converts to Christianity.
Around 2005, when former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began persecuting house churches that operated without government approval, the Abedinis fled to the United States, settling in Boise, Idaho.
Abedini spent most of his time in Elvin Prison, where he was reportedly tortured multiple times. However, on Nov. 3, Abedini was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison. He is now “surrounded by murderers, rapists and other violent criminals,” according to The Washington Times.
“The Iranian regime sends prisoners to Rajai Shahr to disappear,” Mrs. Abedini said. “It sends prisoners to Rajai Shahr to die.”
“We need to see action to back our rhetoric, in the living, breathing form of Saeed Abedini… having been released,” she said.
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