Pastor Saeed Abedini, one of the four Americans imprisoned in Iran, said in a letter that he feels threatened and targeted following the announcement of the nuclear deal between the United States and the Islamic Republic earlier this week.
"I want you to know that as I wrote the thank you letter to President [Barack] Obama after he had visited my family in January of this year (which he read at the national prayer breakfast), that God is in control of all countries and leadership in the world when the body of Christ comes together in united prayer. He is in control and He is the One who beautifully writes the history over all governments, presidents, and any P5+1 negotiating team," the pastor said in a letter.
"We are all looking for a safer, more friendly world and because of this desire many of us are happy and others un-happy about the deal. Please join me in using these emotions that have been awakened to give fervor to united prayer for God's chosen people, America, and for the whole world."
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents his wife, Naghmeh, and two children back in the U.S., revealed that Abedini was able to share with a family member who visited him in prison that a number of the other inmates have been expressing anti-American sentiments.
"Tensions are high inside the prison and he told the family member during today's visit that not only does he feel threatened, but believes he is now a target because he is an American citizen," the law group said.
Abedini, who is serving an eight years sentence for his faith, has faced a number of beatings while in prison, and at times has been denied much needed medical care.
The ACLJ criticized the deal between Western nations and Iran, which lifts economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for restrictions to its nuclear program, and has called on Congress to block its implementation.
"It is unconscionable that the Obama administration would sign a deal with Iran without securing the freedom of pastor Saeed who has been imprisoned for nearly three years simply because of his Christian faith," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, said on Tuesday when asked to comment on the deal by The Christian Post.
"President Obama told the Abedini family face-to-face that he considered the release of pastor Saeed a 'top priority.' How could that be a 'top priority' when a deal is reached and pastor Saeed is left behind? What happened today makes a bad deal even worse," he added.
While Naghmeh Abedini has said that she's disappointed her husband is still in prison, she also admitted that she did not expect his freedom to be secured by the deal.
"You know, it makes sense. It's something they have been up front with me and the other families from the beginning — that he (Saeed) would not be part of the deal. They have said that. Every call I've had with the State Department and the White House has been that," Abedini said on Wednesday.
Her comments followed Obama's explanation that it would not have been wise to include the imprisoned Americans as part of the deal.
"Now, if the question is why we did not tie the negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly Iran realizes, 'You know what? Maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals,'" the president said.