An Iranian court rejected an American pastor’s request for an early release from prison, prompting his wife to fault President Obama for failing to intervene personally on his behalf.
“My husband is serving 8 years in the notorious Evin prison and facing daily threats and abuse by radicals because he refuses to deny his Christian faith,” Naghmeh Abedini, who lives in Idaho with their children, said in a statement after the Iranian court confirmed Pastor Saeed Abedini’s 8-year sentence.
“And yet, my president, President Obama, has not spoken a word about him. “As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic speech defending freedom by Dr. Martin Luther King, a brave American who gave his life to fight for the freedom that is so fundamental to our way of life, I am extremely disappointed that President Obama has chosen to remain silent on this critical human and religious rights case of an American imprisoned in Iran,” she said.
Mrs. Abedini has long been frustrated by the U.S. government’s response to her husband’s plight. Last year, the State Department claimed it could not intervene on behalf of her husband because Iran refused to recognize his American citizenship.
Kerry called for Iran to stop torturing Pastor Abedini after more than 80 Republican and Democratic lawmakers requested that he issue a statement. “Such mistreatment violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws,” Kerry said.
Mrs. Abedini hopes that a personal intervention from Obama would result in her husband’s release.
“We are exploring all options with Pastor Saeed’s family, including options in this country and abroad to bring more pressure on Iran from the U.S. and other countries around the world,” her lawyer, Jordan Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, said in a statement. “The decision is deeply troubling and underscores Iran’s continued violation of principles of freedom of religion, association, peaceful assembly, and expression,” he said.