The wife of an American pastor held captive in an Iranian prison for nearly a year tells me the Obama Administration has not done anything to help free her husband – and the law firm representing the family believes it’s because the pastor is a Christian who converted from Islam.
“I have not received a telephone call from President Obama,” said Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Rev. Saeed Abedini – in an exclusive interview. “I have not received a telephone call from Secretary of State John Kerry – unfortunately.”
Her husband is serving an eight year sentence in one of Iran’s most dangerous prisons where he has reportedly been tortured and subjected to death threats.
In 2009 Abedini made an agreement with the Iranian government to stop serving as the leader of a network of house churches. But he made clear to the regime that he could not stop professing his faith in Christ.
He had also received permission to build an orphanage – and traveled between Iran and the United States nine times without incident. It was on that ninth trip when he was arrested and detained without public notice of the charges.
On Jan. 27, 2013 he was convicted of endangering national security through his leadership in the house churches and sentenced by the Iranian Revolutionary Court’s “hanging judge” to eight years in prison.
The American Center for Law and Justice said he was actually arrested because of his Christian faith as well as his efforts to help Iranian Christians in underground churches. He had been building an orphanage at the time of his arrest.
“The president has done nothing,” said the ACLJ’s Jordan Sekulow. “The president has not said the word Saeed. He has not said Saeed Abedini. He has not called for his release. He has not publicly spoken out.”
Sekulow said he was outraged that the administration has not made the Abedini case a national concern.
“This is an American citizen,” he said. “This is not just someone’s human rights being violated. It’s an American whose human rights are being violated.”
Sekulow told me he believes the reason why the administration has not been more vocal is because Abedini is a former Muslim.
“It’s because he’s a Christian and it’s because he left Islam,” Sekulow said. “I think it’s the fact that he left Islam and became a Christian that the administration has this policy of ‘well, what did you expect from a religion that tells you we will threaten your life if you leave the religion?’”
Last week State Dept. spokesman Victoria Nuland said they remained concerned about Abidini.