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Abedini, Families: No Nuke with Iran Deal Till Prisoners Freed

WASHINGTON  — Family members of four Americans held prisoner in Iran have urged lawmakers to block any nuclear deal with the rogue nation until it frees these detainees.

Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned American Pastor Saaed Abedini, said congressional members are exactly who detainees’ families need to be reaching.

“These are the people who will have to look at the (nuclear) deal,” Abedini told CBN News before a House hearing on the imprisoned Americans Tuesday. “These are the people who define foreign policy. And so these are the people that Iran has to answer to to some degree.”

Before going into the hearing, Abedini prayed outside with a group of Christian supporters, some dressed in orange jumpsuits to show solidarity with prisoners held unjustly in Iran.

Then she spoke of her testimony.  “I hope that they can see the personal side of this story: the pain that our family goes through daily,” she said. “But at the same time to know that the strength and the peace that we have in this really horrible time comes from our faith in Jesus Christ.”

The congressional leaders at the hearing were indeed listening.  “Mrs. Abedini, I just wanted to make a comment to you how moving your testimony of Jesus Christ was to me personally,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz, said. “In some of the darkest hours in my life when I thought there was nobody for me, He was.”

Many lawmakers at the hearing also suggested they are ready to play hardball with Iran.  “The onus is on Iran to release these Americans if they expect any negotiated agreement or any other engagement,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said.

Meanwhile, family members testified it’s been years of horror for all four of the American detainees, like Sarah Hekmati’s brother Amir.

Amir is a former U.S. Marine who has been imprisoned in Iran for four years for espionage and for what Iranian authorities call “waging war against God.”

“He’s referred to his situation in some instances as  ‘he’s died a hundred times,'” Hekmati said. “So much so that he’s become numb and just hardened himself because he has to kind of resign himself that maybe he’s stuck there for 10 years.”

Friends say  the years of waiting take a terrible toll on the families of each detainee. One such friend is Tiffani Barrans, international legal director for the American Center for Law and Justice.

She is helping in the fight for Pastor Abedini’s freedom, but has also grown close to Naghmeh and her kids.

“I’ve been with Naghmeh actually since about 30 hours after her husband was first taken,” Barrans told CBN News.

“She’s got two young children who when I first met them came to her waist and are now almost to her shoulders,” she said. “They have missed really almost 50 percent of their life without their father. So it’s a very difficult circumstance for the whole family.”

Barrans pointed out Pastor Abedini, like the other detainees, basically broke no laws.

“He actually committed no crime,” she said. “To meet and gather with other Christians in private homes, which is the basis of why they said he threatened the security of Iran – that’s a legal act inside of Iran.”

Lawmakers listening to the detainees’ relatives insist Iran’s torture of these prisoners and their families must end.

“I think we should state unequivocally from both the House and the Senate that any deal with Iran is dead on arrival that doesn’t include the release of these prisoners,” Rep. Salmon concluded.

Report via CBN News


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