The U.S. decision to ink a nuclear arms deal with Iran without making the release of four Americans imprisoned by the Middle East Nation a condition of the pact is a "hard blow," says Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who's been locked away since July 2012.
"We're a family that's torn apart. My daughter was 5 when she [last] saw her dad and she will be 9 in a few months. It's been a pain we have carried with us every single day and I was hoping that the pain would be over and it's not," Naghmeh said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV
"It was a hard blow for me and my family, but I just have to get back up again and continue to fight for my husband's release."
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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, allegedly undermining Iranian national security. Since his incarceration, Saeed has been held in one of Iran's worst prisons and has been severely beaten numerous times.
In addition, former Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post Iran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, and ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson are also behind bars in Iran on various charges.
Naghmeh has been working tirelessly to try to convince the Obama administration not to negotiate with Iran without the release of her husband and the other three prisoners, and even met with President Barack Obama to air her concerns.
"I don't think the president is not concerned, he does care about the prisoners, but the nuclear deal had a higher priority and unfortunately that meant my husband's issue had to be pushed on the sidelines and not as much of a priority," she told Steve Malzberg.
"I think even before we sat down with the Iranian government as the United States of America we should have said, release the Americans you're holding hostage and then we will talk.
"It's just by having made a deal and we were losing more leverage as time goes by to get Saeed and the other Americans out, and unfortunately, I haven't been given the assurance that their release is secured yet … We have lost a lot of leverage."
Naghmeh said she still hopes a deal to free the four can be worked out as the deal goes to Capitol Hill.
"Now, Congress gets to look at the deal and I'm hoping that as the Congress looks at the deal they make sure that the Americans are not left behind as we move forward," she said.
"[I hoped Congress would] say, you know what, Iran, we're looking at this deal and if you want to enter into a better relationship with our country, they need to be released … [and that release] has been secured before they approve anything."
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