Pastor Saeed Abedini's Family 'Devastated' Over US Deal With Iran: 'Christmas Without Him Will Be Unbearable'
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."
"It's unbearable," she said, "to think of another Christmas without him and see my kids not have him home for Christmas."
Over the weekend, the U.S. reached an interim agreement with Iran during peace talks in Geneva that freezes the Middle Eastern country's nuclear program for six months while a more long-term agreement can be reached. In exchange, the U.S. will relieve the country of $7 billion from economic sanctions during the six-month period.
The American Center for Law and Justice said that the White House's failure to secure Abedini's release as a part of the weekend negotiations was "a betrayal" against the American pastor. "President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, said in a statement. "It is outrageous and a betrayal of American Pastor Saeed Abedini who has spent more than a year in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said in a statement that the agreement did "not [make] the world a safer place," adding to reporters, "Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place."
The Obama administration has stood by its decision over the nuclear program, with Secretary of State John Kerry telling CNN's "State of the Union" that the U.S. "[believes] very strongly that because the Iranian nuclear program is actually set backwards and is actually locked into place in critical places, that that is better for Israel than if you were just continuing to go down the road and they rush towards a nuclear weapon."