Wife of jailed Idaho pastor meets with State Department

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by Scott Evans

NWCN.com

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM

BOISE – The attorney and wife of imprisoned Idaho Pastor Saeed Abedini were not shy Friday morning while they testified in front of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

That directness earned Naghmeh Abedini and her attorney a meeting with the State Department Friday afternoon.

There they made the same presentation they made to the commission.

That presentation called out the Obama administration for not doing enough to get Saeed freed from and Iranian prison.

Friday’s testimony was the chance Naghmeh Abedini has been waiting for, for quite some time, to get the Obama administration's attention.

"I must say, I'm disappointed with our government,” said Abedini. “I'm disappointed that our president and State Department has not fully engaged in this case, disappointed that this great country is not doing more to free my husband, a U.S. citizen. I expect more from our government."

Her husband, Saeed, is just a few weeks into an eight-year sentence in one of the worst prisons in Iran.

"He has internal bleeding, he's suffering, and every day in that prison is a death sentence for him," said Naghmeh Abedini.

He's accused of being a threat to national security.

"His charge, he was a national security threat to Iran, but what was the act? The act - because of his work with the Christian church from 2000 to 2005," said Abedini’s attorney Jordan Sekulow.

Sekulow, an lawyer with the American Center for Law and Justice, says the only time the president or State Department mention Abedini is when responding to the media.

"You have the world speaking out for Pastor Saeed Abedini, but not his own government," said Sekulow.

In fact, no one from the State Department was at the hearing, despite being invited.

"Then they were asked to come today by the commission and they didn't show up,” said Sekulow. “Naghmeh flew from Idaho to be here with you today, they didn't come from down the street. They couldn't send a person and they told her it's their fault they're not doing anything.”

And the frustration is mounting for Saeed's wife, as her husband has internal bleeding.

"We should know as Americans that our government will stand up to protect our beliefs, our fundamental human right," said Abedini.

Now, Naghmeh Abedini and Sekulow are calling for President Obama and the State Department to fully engage in freeing Saeed.

"A statement from the president of the United States, as well secretary of state will be extremely influential in securing his release," said Sekulow.

"This does represent, in my opinion, a colossal, a colossal failure on the part of leadership by the Obama administration," said Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who sits on the commission.

At least with this commission, Abedini's plea worked, and she has another ally to help bring her husband home.

"The commission will stay with this thing until the release takes place," said Rep. Frank Wolf, R- Virginia/Co-chair of Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Part of that commitment from the commission came not long after the meeting when Naghmeh Abedini was able to sit down with the State Department.

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador, though not part of the commission, attended the hearing and praised Abedini for her courage and strength.

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