Americans Held In Iran Not Part Of Iran Nuke Deal

Four Americans being held captive by the Iranian government were not released as part of the nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran.

Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post Iran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian, ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson and Pastor Saeed Abedini all remain behind bars and their ongoing fates remain unknown.

“We continue to call on Iran to immediately release the detained U.S. citizens,” Secretary of State John Kerry said at a press conference. “These Americans have remained in our thoughts throughout this negotiation. And we will continue to work for their safe and their swift return. And we urge Iran to bring our missing Americans home as well.”

The President is coming under fire for not taking action to obtain the release of the men.  Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said the President told the family of Saeed Abedini to their face gaining release of the prisoners was “top priority.”

“President Obama told the Abedini family face-to-face that he considered the release of Pastor Saeed a ‘top priority,’” Sekulow said. “How could that be a ‘top priority’ when a deal is reached and Pastor Saeed is left behind?”

Abedini’s wife Naghmeh released a statement to Congress pleading with them to do something.

“My children have desperately missed the loving embrace of their father for the last three years of their lives,” she said. “They have grown up almost half of their lives without their father. Please help us ensure the remainder of their childhood includes both a mother and a father.”

One Senator has already responded by calling the agreement a lack of movement in a new direction.

“We owe it to our fellow Americans to elevate, not ignore, their plight,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, “to demand their swift and unconditional release by the implacably hostile regime that holds them.”

Saeed Abedini’s Imprisonment Reaches Day 1,000

Pastor Saeed Abedini has now been imprisoned because of his Christian faith for 1,000 days.

Several groups are marking the day, June 23rd, by sending 1,000 flowers to the U.S. Capitol to remind legislators of Saeed’s wrongful imprisonment at the hands of the Iranian government.

“Every five minutes across the globe, a Christian is killed because of their faith. Today marks day 1,000 that pastor Saeed will be spending in an Iranian prison cell for his Christian faith; 1,000 days of being away from his wife and two precious young children; 1,000 days of facing brutal beatings and torture,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, pastor of Church on the Hill in the nation’s capitol.

“We are leaving 1,000 flowers at the U.S. Capitol to remind members of Congress that millions of Christians are facing persecution and violence around the world and to demand they work for the immediate release of pastor Saeed and work to end this faith-based genocide.”

The 1,000 day mark was punctuated by a petition started by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) that received one million signatures calling for Saeed’s immediate release.

“Pastor Saeed shouldn’t have to languish another single day in one of the world’s worst prisons. He shouldn’t be forced to endure another day of the pain from prison beatings. He shouldn’t have to miss another Father’s Day, birthday, or anniversary away from his loving wife and adoring young children,” the ACLJ stated.

The ACLJ and others are calling on the American negotiators working on a nuclear deal with Iran to include Saeed’s release as a requirement for the deal.  The deadline for a deal is June 30th.

Saeed Abedini Viciously Beaten In Prison

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has revealed that Pastor Saeed Abedini has been viciously beaten by other inmates at the brutal prison where he is being illegally detained.

“Unprovoked, fellow prisoners attacked Pastor Saeed as he attempted to leave his cell, punching him in the face near his left eye and nose,” Executive Director Jordan Sekulow wrote. “In addition to physically beating the persecuted pastor, prisoners demolished a small table Pastor Saeed used to study and read.”

“As he was attacked, Pastor Saeed called out for help,” he continued. “Iranian prison guards did intervene and prevent further injury. However, Pastor Saeed suffered injuries to his face—his eyes beaten black and blue. He was able to be seen briefly by a prison doctor, and thankfully he did not receive any broken bones.”

Abedini has been illegally detained by Iranian officials since 2012.

“It is heartbreaking to me and my family that Saeed was again beaten in prison. Saeed’s life is continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity. It’s time to get Saeed home before it is too late,” Naghmeh Abedini said in response to the news.

This is not the first assault at the hands of other inmates and Naghmeh Abedini has stated she fears his health will continue to decline with each successive beating.

Iranian officials have reportedly told Saeed his sentence will be extended if he does not deny Christ.

“The times they have moved him in and out of solitary [confinement] and the times they have threatened him, they said ‘You will stay here longer than the eight years and your only key to freedom is if you deny your Christian faith and you return to Islam.’ The guards have said that, officials have said that continuously,” Abedini said.

JBS Special News Report: Naghmeh Abedini Rallies World Leaders For Husband

Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of wrongfully imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, has been traveling the world meeting with leaders asking them to pressure the Iranian government for her husband’s release with the help of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

JBS News writer, Jason Wert, recently had the honor of interviewing Tiffany Barrans of the ACLJ. Barrans has been at Naghmeh’s side since 30 hours after Saeed was imprisoned by the Iranians and has traveled with Naghmeh around the world.

Tiffany spoke with USA Headline News about their travels and the reception of world leaders, including a trip last week to the European Parliament, Germany and then yesterday in front of the U.S. Congress.

Q: What kind of reception did you receive from European Leaders?

Barrans: We had an incredible reception both at the European Parliament and with every member of the German government that we met.  Individuals at the Foreign Ministry, the top leaders, the people in the party who were second in command to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It is always amazing to me how in touch Europe is with the issues of religious freedom in particular and more broadly with human rights.  And they look for ways to make sure their actions match their words.  Something I hope we can improve upon here in the United States!  We truly had a great reception from everybody.

Q: Given that America and Europe do not have the best relationship right now, have you found some countries do not want to become involved because Saeed is an American?

Barrans: It’s always a touchy subject, obviously.  There are some countries that hesitate to get involved because he is an American.  Sometimes it’s related to their relationship with the American government and sometimes it’s because they’re concerned he may have been a spy!

Luckily for us, the Iranian government came out very quickly in their state controlled media and said that [Saeed] was not being considered a spy so we can quickly nip that one and move on.

Germany in particular, the Netherlands has been great as well, has a real heart for those who have been persecuted for their faith and have been active in this field.

Q:  This may seem out of left field, but do you think perhaps the legacy of the Holocaust is what contributes to Germany’s passion for religious freedom?

Barrans: I don’t think that’s out of left field, I think that’s right on!  A lot of them would even admit that themselves.  There are so many in current generations that centuries of trying to right that wrong are necessary and even then, you can’t.  So they’re very sensitive to those who are persecuted, on religious grounds in particular.  It’s also in many businesses whose equipment was used for medical experiments.  So that’s why you see Germany taking a lead on religious freedom issues.

Q:  How is Naghmeh holding up?

Barrans:  I’ve been with Naghmeh since 30 hours after her husband was taken the summer of 2012.  So I’ve walked with her very closely through this process.  It never ceases to amaze me the strength that the Lord gives her.  It truly is a divine thing for her to walk in peace.

I see those moments when we travel together, when we’re tired, when something bad happens when I get that 3:30 in the morning call when she’s broken because she’s human just like the rest of us.  But her faith has always encouraged me and strengthened my faith, to be honest.

It’s hard for me to watch her to have to console her two young children who fear when she leaves to advocate for Saeed and to bring their daddy home that they’re concerned that she won’t come home.  That like their daddy she will go to do good and not come home.

But her faith always encouraged me.

Q:  We spoke with Naghmeh after she met with the President in Idaho about her husband’s situation and how the President told her son that he would try to bring him home by his birthday.

Barrans:  Naghmeh tells the story of six-year-old Jacob, her son,  at his birthday in March.  When he met the President at the end of January he said “Mister President, will you bring my daddy home for my birthday?”  And the President looked him in the eye and said “Well son, when’s your birthday?” and Jacob said “March 17th!”  You know, a very strong little boy.  And the President said “oh, that’s very soon but I will try, I will try.”

In the heart and the mind of a little boy, if I can speak with the President of the United States then of course my daddy is coming home.  And he woke up on March 17th on his birthday and he ran around the house looking for his daddy and his hopes were just crushed when he wasn’t there.

You think of it through the experience of a child that age and realize that he’s lived almost half of his life without his father.  It’s very difficult and then imagine being the mom who is missing her husband and trying to insure that her children are still living a life that is whole and complete when something so large is missing.

Q:  Naghmeh spoke before a Congressional committee on Tuesday.  What kind of reception did she receive from the committee?

Barrans: I have never seen a Congress so unified on something to be quite honest.  Religious liberty is something that they should be, to be quite honest.  But as you had the family members of the four held captive in Iran and the pain they experience there was such an incredible reaction from Congress.

You saw Democrats, in some cases for the first time, asking how they can consent to the nuclear deal and trust Iran with something as important as a nuclear deal when they’re violating their own law and international law very publicly by holding these Americans?

That’s incredible in that we haven’t necessarily heard that before loudly from the party but it was great to see the Dems taking that position as well as the Republicans at the hearing.

Naghmeh Abedini Tells Congress Jesus Hasn’t Abandoned Her Family

The wife of Saeed Abedini, the American pastor imprisoned in Iran for being a Christian, told Congress that Jesus has not abandoned her family despite her husband’s continued illegal captivity.

Naghmeh Abedini spoke to the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday during a hearing about Americans wrongfully imprisoned in Iran.

“Most mornings like today, I wake up in a new hotel in a new city or country and am reminded of my new reality — a reality that includes lonely airports and empty hotel rooms,” Abedini explained in her testimony. “This pain of this journey without my husband has only increased as I have had to frequently leave my children to advocate for my husband’s release. The reality is, we are a family torn apart.”

“Over the last three years, I have had to watch my two children, Rebekka (who is 8 years old) and Jacob (who is 7 years old), suffer daily as they have grown up without a father or a mother,” Abedini continued. “I am here today as single mother who is trying to be strong for her children, and as a wife who humbly admits, I need your help. I cannot bear to look at my children’s longing eyes one more time and explain to them why their daddy is still not home.”

Abedini told the Congressmen that time is running out for the U.S. to have leverage to demand the release of her husband and others held captive.

“I can’t make foreign policy but I know that this is a crucial time and we have to bring Americans home while we can,” she told CP. “This is the time we have leverage. I know that we have a few weeks. I think after a deal is made or not made, it will be much more difficult to get Saeed out.”

The Committee passed a resolution at the end of the hearing calling for the immediate release of the captive Americans.

Naghmeh Abedini Asks European Officials For Help

The wife of wrongfully imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini is turning to European leaders for help in her quest to free her husband.

Naghmeh Abedini visited with German officials and the European Parliament to speak with lawmakers who are committed to religious freedom around the world.  The German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights quickly supported Naghmeh’s mission.

“I call upon Iran to quash Pastor Abedini’s sentence – and the sentences of all those imprisoned merely on account of their religious belief – without delay,” the commissioner said in a statement following the meeting. “Until he is released, I appeal to all those responsible in Iran to grant him urgently needed medical treatments, including outside the prison.”

A vigil at the Iranian Embassy in Germany was held by Naghmeh and German freedom advocates.

The meetings were arranged by the American Center for Law and Justice along with the German rights group Internationale Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte.

Tiffany Barrans of the ACLJ traveled with Abedini.

“This opportunity was invaluable to raise the plight of Pastor Saeed and the Christian community that suffers in Iran,” Barrans said.

The ACLJ has been advocating for Abedini’s release for years.

“Continued international pressure has helped free persecuted Christians before and we pray that it will again,” ACLJ said.

Senate Passes Resolution Calling For Release of Iranian Prisoners

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday calling for Iran to immediately release three Americans wrongfully imprisoned and for Iran to help in locating a missing fourth American.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell singed out Abedini who has been imprisoned for two and a half years because of his Christian faith.

“One of those Americans, Saeed Abedini, has reportedly been held prisoner for what would appear to be the supposed ‘crime’ of attempting to build and operate an orphanage. Beaten, denied access to medical care, and locked away in solitary confinement — that’s apparently how the Iranian regime deals with those who dare to show love and compassion to others,” he said.

The bill passed 90-0 with ten Senators missing.  Several were on the campaign trail but their spokesman said they supported the bill.

“No American should find this acceptable. Just as no American should find it acceptable to unjustly imprison a reporter, or a grandson coming to see his grandmother. I think we can all agree that, at the very least, the American government should not be rewarding Iran for its disgraceful human-rights abuses — that we should not be granting Iran access to the funding it desires to further its nuclear weapons program and terrorist proxies while this exploitation continues,” said McConnell.

“They shouldn’t have sat down at the table before these four people were released, or accounted for,” Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) told The Hill.

Pastor Saeed Abedini Celebrated His 35th Birthday Behind Bars In Iran

Saeed noted in a letter to his supporters and family that his birthday this year fell on the National Day of Prayer in America.

“As an American and as a prisoner for Christ, I have spent many hours praying and crying out to God for revival for this great nation. We all hope for the success of our nation and for America to be blessed, but without revival there can be no true success or blessing. As Ezra’s cried out to God in repentance and the Israelites joined him in weeping bitterly and turning from their sin, I would like to ask you to join me in repenting and praying for revival,” Abedini’ letter begins.

The American Center for Law and Justice, who represents the family, said the letter was given to a family member in Iran last week.

The ACLJ said that Abedini’s letter focused on American Christians and a call upon them to turn back to God and make Him the center of their lives.

“Change starts with us. Revival starts with us. The first step to revival is praying together in unity as a nation. the National Day of Prayer is a great opportunity for us to come out and use the freedom that we have been given. So many Christians around the world are imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus,” Abedini wrote.

“You have the freedom to gather across the United States at your state capitol to pray. Please use this opportunity. Please use your freedom for the kingdom of God.”


White House Will Not Support Newly Proposed Iran Amendment

The White House has stated that they may veto a proposed amendment that would require Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other Americans held captive in Iran be released as part of any Iranian nuclear deal.

“That is simply unbelievable. Refusing to discuss the Americans being held hostage by Iran at the bargaining table and rejecting any congressional attempt to make any deal with Iran contingent on the release of the Americans is unacceptable. It’s quite frankly appalling,” the American Center for Law and Justice wrote in an update on Thursday.”

Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed’s wife, continues  to advocate for her husband’s release said,

“Our government must not forget that Saeed is not being held by the reformists with whom they negotiate, but by radical hardliners who oppose what he represents – a Christian convert and a U.S. citizen,” she said.  “We cannot leave my husband’s fate in the hands of these radicals. I implore our government to remember the urgency of bringing Saeed home to our family.”

The release was a response to a statement by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

“Our first priority is to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “

“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,” Earnest said.

“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.”

Prison Guards Say Saeed Abedini Won’t Go Free Until He Denies Christ

The wife of wrongly imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini says the guards at the prison where he’s being held tell him that unless he renounces Christ, he will never be released.

“Last week had been quite difficult for Saeed. He has been under a lot of pressure and attack from the hardliners. The guards have also been threatening Saeed that he will never go free and additional charges (and years) will be added to his sentence (which they have done to other Christians and fellow inmates),” said the pastor’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, according to American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

“They continually threaten Saeed that the only key to his freedom is denying Christ and returning to Islam. Saeed refuses to deny Christ and continues to be a light and witness in that dark prison. These threats, coupled with the fact that there have been mass executions during the last week in Rajayee Shahr prison, have really taken their toll on Saeed. He asks for prayer for continued strength,” she said.

Saeed has been imprisoned for more than two and a half years for his Christian faith.

The ACLJ is calling on U.S. officials to raise the situation with Abedini when they return to the negotiating table with Iran on April 21st.

“Our government must do everything in its power to bring pastor Saeed home. It is absolutely critical that the Obama administration and the State Department continue to demand that our innocent citizens — especially pastor Saeed who is suffering only because of his religious beliefs — be returned home,” said the organization. “He suffers from injuries. He is separated from his family. He is persecuted for his faith. He is surrounded by fellow inmates being dragged to the gallows. The thought is unbearable.”