President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any legislation that would make approval of the Iran nuclear deal contingent on the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other Americans being held in Iranian prisons.
Despite telling Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, in January, in person, that he would do everything possible to secure her husband's release, and despite saying at the National Day of Prayer Breakfast in February, "I was recently in Boise, Idaho, and had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Abedini's beautiful wife and wonderful children and to convey to them that our country has not forgotten brother Saeed and that we're doing everything we can to bring him home," Obama will veto such legislation, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News at a recent press briefing, KTVB-TV reports.
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Abedini, an Iranian-American, has been held prisoner for three years of an eight-year sentence for preaching Christianity.
Earnest told ABC, "The president would certainly veto any amendment or any bill with an amendment that undermined the unanimous compromise that was reached in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or that interfered with the ongoing negotiations," the Christian Post reports.
"Certainly a provision, an amendment, that made this nuclear deal contingent on Iran's release of those three American citizens would fall, I think, frankly, into both categories," Earnest said.
"This is despicable, this is outrageous, and it is an insult to the captive Americans and their families. The fact of the matter is simple. There can be no deal unless Pastor Saeed and his fellow American hostages in Iran are free," the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said in a press release.
ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow wrote, "The Obama administration has refused to ask for the release of Pastor Saeed and the other imprisoned Americans at the bargaining table, and that is a tremendous mistake," the Christian Post reported. Nearly 200,000 people have signed an ACLJ petition calling for Abedini's release.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has submitted an amendment, which would make any deal contingent on release of the Americans, to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, known as the Corker Bill, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to ensure congressional review of any final nuclear deal with Iran, the Kansas City Star notes.
Also imprisoned are Amir Hekmati, a former Marine, and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Retired DEA and FBI official Robert Levinson, is either imprisoned or missing, the Star reports.
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said, "At the very least they should do this, it's the right thing to do, and it's important that that be done before any of the sanctions are removed from Iran," the Christian Post reported.
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