WASHINGTON -- The wife of a Boise pastor imprisoned in Iran went before members of Congress Thursday, pleading for more action to get her husband released. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) also spoke out about Saeed Abedini.
Abedini was imprisoned in September of 2012 and his family says he's being held in life-threatening conditions. Naghmeh urged lawmakers to not give up on her husband, "In the interest of Americans' confidence in the competency of her government official, her national security, and international standing, Saeed Abedini needs to be released now."
Naghmeh testified before the House Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee. She said that the holidays are a difficult time for her and her family since they are a reminder that Saeed still isn't home. While Iranian officials say Saeed was imprisoned for crimes against the government, Naghmeh believes he was imprisoned for his religious beliefs. "Americans are watching our government to see what we will do. And, the world is watching to see where we stand in terms of important human rights issues such as religious freedom, which has been an important value since this country was founded."
Naghmeh was very disappointed that Saeed's release was not a condition of the United States' talks with Iran about their nuclear program. Sen. Mike Crapo was also disappointed. Thursday, he told Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and top Iran negotiator, "In the run-up to the October talks, the United States released a convicted Iranian proliferator from a California prison, but had no relief for detained Americans."
Crapo went on to ask for assurance that the State Department will take every opportunity to try to get Saeed and other Americans being held in Iran released. Sherman said, "I absolutely guarantee it. You have my personal commitment to do so."
Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry each said that Saeed's release is a top priority. President Obama has also asked for Saeed's release.