Pastor's wife: Iran testing Obama by refusing to free husband, others

Dec. 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Iran is testing President Obama's commitment to protecting Americans by refusing to free three U.S. citizens, the wife of one of the captives charged Thursday.

Naghmeh Abedini said U.S. diplomats did not negotiate for the release of her husband, Saeed Abedini, during talks about Iran's nuclear program last month, ABC News reported.

Abedini, a pastor, "is suffering because he is a Christian. He's suffering because he's an American," Naghmed Abedini said. "Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table."

Speaking at a joint subcommittee hearing for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she added, "Iran is curious: How strong is our American president? How serious is he about our American security? Would he act with firm resolve to protect and defend?"

Saeed Abedini was arrested in Iran in 2012 "for charges related to his religious beliefs," the state department said. He had worked to set up churches in Iran for almost 10 years before his arrest.

Secretary of State John Kerry said in March he was "deeply concerned" about Abedini's fate and called for his immediate release.

Two other Americans are also being held in Iran. Amir Hekmati, a former Marine born in Arizona, was arrested in 2011 and accused of being a spy. He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned. Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while visiting Iran's Kish Island in March 2007, but Iran has not admitted to holding him.

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