Secretary of State John Kerry apparently failed to negotiate the release of an American pastor held prisoner and tortured there for more than a year, despite Senate pressure to make that part of a deal with Iran to ease economic sanctions in return for freezing its nuclear program.
According to the Daily Caller
, Saeed Abedini, a former member of Islam who converted to Christianity, has been incarcerated in Iran since the summer of 2012 when the Iranian government sentenced him to eight years in prison for purportedly undermining national security by preaching Christianity.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took to Twitter Sunday to blast the deal with Iran and draw attention to Abedini’s plight.
"Was the Christian pastor’s release part of this weekend’s ‘historic’ deal struck with Iran? If not, why not?," tweeted
Both the United States Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee have unanimously passed resolutions calling for Abedini’s release. The Rev. Billy Graham also made a personal appeal to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on behalf of the Iranian pastor, the Daily Caller reported.
The White House has not commented on why the release was not part of the deal.
The effort to free Abedini had been headed by the American Center for Law and Justice. Joining Palin, it condemned the fact that his release was apparently not presented as precondition to the deal reached over the weekend.
"President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran," ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement following the deal.
"It is outrageous and a betrayal of American Pastor Saeed Abedini who has spent more than a year in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith."
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