Saeed Abedini. (Family photo provided by ACLJ)
The wife of an American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year spoke before a House subcommittee on foreign affairs Thursday in the hopes he could soon be freed.
Naghmeh Abedini said she was shocked she had to "battle my own government" not just the Iranian government, in trying to get Saeed Abedini released from prison.
Pastor Abedini, who is a U.S. citizen of Iranian birth, had traveled to his parents' hometown to build an orphanage, but was detained for his Christian beliefs. Immigration officials took away his passport when he was traveling across the border from Turkey into Iran and later arrested.
Abedini converted from Islam to Christianity and became a pastor in Idaho. Conversion from Islam is illegal in Iran.
Naghmeh Abedini pressed congressmen to use the opportunity of the upcoming nuclear talks to urge Iran to release her husband.
"I feel my husband has been abandoned," she said, adding her husband has been beaten and robbed at knifepoint, suffering from internal bleeding.
"The Iranian regime sends prisoners to Rajai Shahr to disappear," she said, referring to her husband's transfer from Evin Prison in Tehran on November 3. "It sends prisoners to Rajai Shahr to deny them their human rights. It sends prisoners to Rajai Shahr to die."
Abedini is one of three Americans missing or imprisoned in Iran. Bob Levinson, a retired FBI agent vanished on a business trip in March 2007, and it was revealed this week he was working on a rogue operation for the CIA.
And Amir Hekmati, a former Marine, has been jailed since 2011 on accusations of spying for the CIA.