The wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini says the United States must not finalize a nuclear arms deal with Iran until her husband and other Americans, including a Washington Post reporter imprisoned there are released.
"If a deal is reached and the Americans are not released, I don't think we have any more leverage with the Iranians to get the Americans out," Naghmeh Abedini said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV
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"We still have some leverage with Iran until the end of June, until the final deal is reached. If we don't use that leverage now, we can never use it. Iran doesn't have any intent to release the Americans.
"Iran needs to be kept accountable. They need to show that in some small measure they can be trusted. Why are they still holding the Americans?"
Saeed, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000, met and wed Naghmeh, a U.S. citizen, and settled in Idaho.
But during a trip back to Iran, he was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for preaching Christianity and allegedly undermining Iranian national security by setting up home-based Christian churches in his native country from 2000 to 2005. While in jail, his wife says, Abedini has been beaten and threatened with death.
Earlier this year, she and her two young children — Rebekka, 7, and her brother, Jacob, 6 — met with President Barack Obama in Boise to discuss the family's agony and what the U.S. is doing to secure the pastor's release.
"We have reached a framework deal with Iran and unfortunately, Saeed still sits in the Iranian prison. He continues to be tortured and abused because of his Christian faith," Naghmeh told Steve Malzberg.
"I'm hoping that we still have till the end of June to reach a final agreement. I'm hoping that before the end of June while we're still talking to the Iranians that Saeed's freedom and the freedom of other Americans is secured."
Meanwhile, she said she and her husband are keeping hope.
"I don't know where we're at with securing Saeed's freedom, but I continue to hold onto hope, I know Saeed does and our faith is keeping us strong," Naghmeh said.
"I do believe it's important that our Congress and our government in general just continues to push Iran on human rights issues …
"I do hope that Iran is kept accountable and our Congress does address that issue, that we're taking steps towards a better relationship. Iran needs to show a good faith effort and Iran needs to release the Americans they're holding, including an ex-Marine, an ex-FBI, a reporter and my husband."
One of the detainees, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, has been held in Iran on unknown charges since July 22.
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