Despite her disappointment that her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, was not released as a part of President Barack Obama's recent nuclear deal with Iran, Naghmeh Abedini supported the decision Wednesday saying it "makes sense" and that she knew all along that her husband's release would not have been a part of the deal because the State Department had already informed her that would be the case.
"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 State Department and the White House has been that," said Naghmeh Abedini in an interview with CNN Wednesday after listening to Obama explain to a reporter why the deal could not have included the release of the pastor and three other Americans being held in Iran.
"Nobody is content, and our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out," said Obama at a White House press conference Wednesday after being accused of being "content" with the four Americans being held in Iran.
"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.'
"And, by the way, if we had walked away from the nuclear deal, we'd still be pushing them just as hard to get these folks out," Obama added. "That's why those issues are not connected, but we are working every single day to try to get them out and won't stop until they are out and rejoined with their families."
Naghmeh said despite her understanding of the realities of the negotiations, she had still hoped that "sideline" talks with Iranian officials would have resulted in her husband's release. She also made it clear that she never asked that her husband's release be a part of the nuclear deal.
"I am one of the families he (Obama) did meet with in January of this year and I saw sincerity and concern when we did meet, he got to meet my two kids, [and said] that he would try to do everything to bring Saeed and the other Americans out. He promised me that, he said, he did it with the Cuban prisoner (Alan Gross) and he would do it for my husband," explained Naghmeh.
"I think the nuclear deal has made it more difficult. I've never asked for Saeed to be part of the deal but I've hoped that on the sidelines that his release would have been secured as we still have some leverage with the Iranian government and that has been my hope that his release would have been secured even on the sidelines," she explained.
"I know they (U.S. diplomats) have also been talking to the Iranian government on the sidelines. Again, it does make sense that he was not part of the deal but I was hoping on the sidelines as they were reaching a deal they were also securing the release of Saeed and the other Americans. But his explanation does make sense. I've never wanted my husband to be part of having to give up something, our government and the rest of the world, for their release. And I didn't want that to be used as part of the deal," she stressed.
Naghmeh, whose husband has been imprisoned for his Christian faith in Iran since 2012, says she was "emotional" when her hope did not materialize this week but she said officials from the State Department reached out to her and told her that his release was still a top priority. She also noted that she believes President Obama is "concerned."
"I was hoping to hear some good news but I do think as the president said, he does care, he's concerned and they're working on it. I had a call with State [Department officials] and they are working on it. They couldn't promise me a timeline, they couldn't promise me his release has been secured but that they are working on it, that it is a top priority," she said.
"It was hard [not hearing good news], I guess I had put too much, a lot of expectation and hope that with hearing about the deal I would also get a call that my husband was coming home. It was emotional not hearing that," she added.
Naghmeh noted that her husband is continuing to lean on his Christian faith to remain strong in imprisonment but his ordeal remains emotional and painful.
"He's there because of his Christian faith and that's been the faith that gives me and my family strength through this time and given Saeed the strength to continue. He's been in and out of solitary, he's had physical pain, he's had beatings. And he's been able to continue because of that," said Naghmeh.
"He's very emotional, he has missed out on almost four birthdays. My daughter will be nine in a few months and she was five last time she saw him. That's really emotional for him because he's missed out on so many milestones in our kids growing up."