American billionaire Donald Trump met with Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran, and stepped up his petition calling on the U.S. government to do everything it can to secure the pastor's release ahead of a congressional hearing.
"Naghmeh Abedini, the lovely wife of the Christian Pastor Saeed being held in an Iranian jail, just left my office," Trump shared in a Twitter message on Tuesday.
"Re Kerry admitting to 'working' for Pastor Abedini's release--why has US already released Iranian spies & nuclear scientist?" he added, referring to Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. government failing to secure Abedini's release during recent nuclear talks with Iran, while freeing an Iranian scientist.
Naghmeh Abedini is currently preparing for a congressional hearing on Thursday, when she will provide an update on her husband's case. The U.S. pastor is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Iran because of his Christian faith, and despite a large international campaign calling for his release, Iranian officials have refused to do so.
"I am most thankful that of the many issues that Mr. Trump could engage he has chosen to speak out about the unjust imprisonment of my husband by the Iranian government. This reveals to me the heart of Mr. Trump and his commitment to religious freedom," Naghmeh Abedini said after the private meeting with the U.S. billionaire.
"I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Trump for his concern of my husband and our family. I am very grateful for his support and want to offer the most valuable gift I have - the gift of prayer. May God Bless Mr. Trump and his family."
Trump previously spoke out for Saeed Abedini's case at the end of November, criticizing President Barack Obama's administration for failing to do more to help out the pastor.
"Mr. President, tell Iran to immediately free the Christian pastor, as a sign of good faith, & if they refuse break off talks--big sanctions," Trump previously posted.
"How does Obama rationalize giving Iran $8B in sanction relief when a Christian pastor is being tortured in an Iranian prison?"
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Naghmeh Abedini and their two children in the U.S., has reported that the pastor is suffering from a number of physical ailments and has been threatened and robbed at knifepoint by violent criminals in Rajai Shahr prison.