After imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini witnessed fellow prisoners being beaten and taken to their executions in Iran’s Rajai Shahr prison last week, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) called the U.S. not to make any nuclear deal with Iran until it releases Abedini.
“We have continued to work with the U.S. State Department as we pressure the administration not to leave Pastor Saeed behind as it sits at the negotiating table with Iran,” ACLJ executive director Jordan Sekulow wrote in a March 7 news release. “… There can be no deal with Iran as it imprisons and torments our own citizens.”
The U.S., Iran and five other nations are in negotiations concerning a deal that reportedly would limit Iran’s nuclear program. A March 24 deadline has been set for establishing the framework of a final accord.
Abedini was “quite shaken” after he witnessed “six fellow prisoners being beaten and taken to be executed” March 4, his wife Naghmeh Abedini wrote on Facebook March 5. “It was a hard and dark day having witnessed that and seeing life being taken.”
Naghmeh Abedini’s report came after Saeed’s father visited him in prison, a visit that was “very hard as the families of those who were executed were crying and wailing,” Naghmeh wrote.
The visit was also “emotional” because the Abedinis’ son Jacob is approaching his seventh birthday and has not seen his father since he was 4, Naghmeh Abedini wrote. She requested prayer “for Saeed to have the strength to endure in that harsh prison and that Jesus would continue to meet him there and give him hope.”
She added, “Please pray that this will be the year that Saeed is released.”
Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned since Sept. 26, 2012, because of his Christian faith. He was sentenced Jan. 27, 2013, to eight years in prison on charges he threatened national security by planting house churches in Iran years earlier, and had been under house arrest since July 2012.
Abedini suffers from internal injuries sustained during prison beatings, Sekulow reported, adding that “summary executions, inmate violence and beatings are commonplace” in the facility where he is detained.
President Barack Obama met with Naghmeh Abedini and the couple’s two children near their home in Boise, Idaho, Jan. 21 and said securing Saeed’s release remains a “top priority.” Obama received a letter from the imprisoned pastor a week later thanking the president for visiting his family.
“President Obama, you have my prayers from inside of these walls,” Saeed Abedini wrote.
Sekulow said in his March 7 release that the Obama administration “must do all within its power to bring this wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen home to his family in America.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)