The family of Pastor Saeed Abedini said in a recent interview that they are "devastated" that the Obama administration failed to secure Abedini's release during recent negotiation talks with Iran, in which the Middle Eastern country agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for lighter economic sanctions. Abedini is an American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran over the past year for his Christian faith.
"As a wife and a mom, it's devastating," Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife, told Fox News Radio. Naghmeh and her family saw these recent peace talks between Iran and the U.S. as a possible opportunity for Abedini to be released from his eight-year prison sentence. The pastor was sentenced in January 2013 under the charges of "planting house churches that are intended to undermine national security."
Naghmeh added to Fox News Radio that she now believes the U.S. has no leveraging power since making the nuclear program deal. "Iran has no incentive for them to release him. I don't think we have any more leverage. We now have to consider other avenues and having other countries speak out because our country when we could have used our leverage chose to stay silent." more >>
Israel criticized on Sunday an interim nuclear deal the United States and other world powers reached with Iran, calling it a "historic mistake." It is also a "betrayal" of U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith, said the American Center for Law and Justice, which had urged Washington to secure his release as a precondition.
"What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, of the four-page agreement, to which Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany are also party.
Named the "Joint Plan of Action," the deal requires Iran to freeze its nuclear program for six months even as negotiators continue to push for a longer-term agreement. In return, Iran will be provided with up to $7 billion in relief from international sanctions for the duration of the interim agreement. more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice has urged Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Geneva for nuclear talks with Iran, to secure the release of U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith, before an agreement on that country's nuclear program.
"The actions of the Iranian regime have utterly ignored President Obama's demand for Mr. Abedini's release," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, wrote to Kerry this week.
"Failure to secure Mr. Abedini's freedom and return to the United States while executing an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran sends the unmistakable message that the United States will not protect its own citizens even when dealing directly with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran," added Sekulow. more >>
The family of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran has finally been allowed to visit him in Rajai Shahr Prison, where he was abruptly transferred to earlier this month. But the U.S. citizen is still being denied the medication that he needs.
"Pastor Saeed's situation remains dire. However, we are encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed visitation – and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him. Pastor Saeed, however, has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors," the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported in an update on the pastor's condition on Monday.
The update served as the first physical confirmation of Pastor Saeed's condition and life since he was taken out of Evin Prison earlier this month and transferred to Rajai Shahr. The law group, which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S., noted that the pastor is being kept inside the violent criminal ward and is sharing a cell with other prisoners. more >>
Several U.S. politicians and the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference have strongly spoken out against a deal offered to Iran that would allow it to keep its nuclear weapon capabilities, saying it would be a "historic mistake."
"If the administration agrees to reach an agreement with Iran without Iran's acquiesce to halt and dismantle its Nuclear Program such a position would be a monumental departure from multiple U.N. resolutions, our pledges to Israel, and this administration's own stated policy," said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, in a statement on Wednesdayw. The NHCLC is the nation's largest Hispanic Christian organization with 40,118 member churches representing millions of people.
"Congress' bipartisan pushback against the administration's unilateral negotiations is proof that key congressional leaders view any lifting of sanctions - even before Iran has done anything to halt and dismantle its nuclear program - as dangerous to the nation of Israel and to the stability of the region." more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been denied medication and blankets his father tried to give him in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, with prison officials saying the U.S. citizen is not allowed to have any personal belongings. The update follows reports that the prison is severely overcrowded, leading to "deadly and inhuman" conditions.
"Saeed's health had been improving with his medication in Evin prison, but with horrendous conditions in Rajai Shahr and the lack of proper medication, Saeed's health will likely deteriorate quickly," wrote Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), in an update on Monday on the pastor's condition.
The ACLJ, which represents the pastor's wife and two children in the U.S., reported that Abedini had been moved from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr last week, though an explanation for this sudden change has not been provided. An international campaign backed by a number of U.S. political leaders, including President Barack Obama, has called for the pastor's release, but so far Iranian authorities have refused to release him or reduce his eight-year sentence. more >>