FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As Two Year Anniversary of Conviction Nears for Pastor Saeed Abedini, President Obama Agrees to Meet With His Wife Naghmeh and Children While in Idaho
1/21/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that President Barack Obama has agreed to meet with Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini who is currently serving an eight year prison term for his religious beliefs in Iran.
Saeed Abedini was detained in Iran while working to establish a government approved orphanage in northern Iran. He was originally held under house arrest and prevented from leaving the country, then on September 26, 2012 was taken to prison by the Iranian revolutionary guard. On January 27, 2013 he was convicted for working with house churches during the time between 2000 and 2008, before he left the country, work he had ceased doing, and sentenced to eight years in prison.
The Obama administration has made statements regarding his case, including raising the issue during a phone call between President Obama and then newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on September 27, 2013, but this meeting will be the first time that President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, or any other high-ranking administration official will have met with his family.
When Naghmeh learned that President Obama would be traveling to Boise, Idaho, the family’s home town, she wrote a letter asking to meet with him. She shared with him the raw emotion that she as a mom and wife has had to deal with, and urged him to fulfill his pledge to protect America and its citizens.
The exact details regarding the meeting are not yet clear, but it is a chance to make a powerful statement of support to a family who is suffering because of a violation of religious freedom. Pastor Saeed is one of four American’s believed to be held by the Iranian government.
Negotiations for their release have come parallel to on-going negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program, the highest level of diplomatic engagement between the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. As President Obama stressed in his State of the Union Address, “There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed,” and he threatened to veto acts by Congress that may alter the negotiations, wanting to “keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.” Yet, in these negotiations the fate of American citizens should be something that is of paramount importance for this Administration and President Obama has the opportunity to demonstrate that concern today.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Todd Daniels, said, “We are encouraged at the President’s decision to meet with Naghmeh Abedini while in Idaho. We hope that this meeting will testify of a continued commitment of this president and this administration to both protect its citizens and to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms – including religious freedom – that it says to uphold and promote around the world.”
For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East: RM-ME@persecution.org
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