September 15, 2014
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WASHINGTON (BP) -- Naghmeh Abedini has told members of Congress she is disheartened the Obama administration is not helping her husband, an American citizen who is being persecuted and tortured in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith.

Testifying March 15 on Capitol Hill, Abedini said, "I must say I am disappointed with our government. I am disappointed that our president and our State Department have not fully engaged in this case. ... I expect more from our government.

"I expect more from our government." -
Naghmeh Abedini, pastor's wife
"[W]e should know as American citizens that our government will stand up to protect our beliefs, our fundamental human rights," she said.

Her husband, Saeed Abedini, has reported that Iranian authorities at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran are torturing him and pressuring him to deny Christ. Iranian officials arrested and imprisoned him last year, and a court sentenced him in January to eight years in prison for endangering Iran's "national security" by planting house churches a decade ago in the Middle Eastern country. A father of two, Abedini, 32, is an ordained minister of Iranian descent who became a United States citizen in 2010.

Naghmeh Abedini joined others in testifying before members of the House of Representative's Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission about the eroding conditions for religious minorities in Iran, which is ruled by an extremist Islamic regime. Though invited, no representative of the State Department appeared at the hearing.

Others at the hearing criticized the Obama administration more strongly than did Naghmeh Abedini.

"The problem is that the State Department is AWOL," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing Abedini's family. "They act as if they are embarrassed about Mr. Abedini's faith."

"[W]hat our State Department is doing is abysmal," said Sekulow, who said its actions show a "stunning lack of concern for protecting human rights and religious freedom."

Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., a commission member, said the State Department "should be utterly ashamed for their failure to speak out" in behalf of Abedini and his family. He described the department's response as a "deafening and almost cowardly silence." Read More
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