The wife of an American pastor jailed in Iran because of his Christian conversion and activities hopes he will be allowed to return to the United States for treatment of the internal injuries he has suffered behind bars in the rogue Islamic regime.
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been in a Tehran hospital and out of the notorious Rajai Shahr prison now for several weeks, but authorities there still have not allowed him to have the surgery that is necessary to repair the damage from prison beatings.
Abedini’s wife, Nagmeh, faults the regime for a missed opportunity.
“Although Saeed is in the hospital and is in a better condition, Iran had a great chance of releasing Saeed under clemency last week as part of 920 prisoners that they released for Iranian new year,” she said. “Unfortunately Saeed was not on the list.
“I am hoping and praying that Saeed will be released from the hospital and sent to the U.S. so he would not have to face the horrible conditions of the Rajai Shahr prison again,” she said.
Abedini was sentenced to eight years for alleged crimes related to his Christian faith. He’s been in custody since late 2012. His family reports he was in Iran to try to start an orphanage. His parents and other family live there.
It’s reported that his injuries come from beatings from other inmates and guards in prison.
But Executive Director Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has worked on his case, says that whether or not a diplomatic move is in the works, Abedini’s conditions have improved.
“It is encouraging that Pastor Saeed remains in a hospital instead of a prison cell. While he has been receiving medication and meals, he has yet to receive critical surgery needed to address internal injuries he sustained in prison,” he said.
“It is not clear when or if Pastor Saeed will receive the much-needed surgery or how long he will remain in the hospital. We are grateful to the many people around the world who continue to pray for Pastor Saeed’s release. It is those prayers that sustain Pastor Saeed and his family during this time,” Sekulow said.
Middle East Forum Founder and President Daniel Pipes believes it’s possible that a diplomatic agreement may be in the works.
“As part of the Iranian smile diplomacy, I expect Abedini to be released. This wins Tehran favor while costing it nothing,” Pipes said.
ACLJ spokesman Gene Kapp agrees that whether or not a deal is being negotiated, Abedini’s situation has improved.
“The good news is he is still hospitalized and not in a prison cell at this time. While he is receiving medication and better food, he is still not been given the surgery he needs to address the serious internal injuries he has received at the hands of his captors,” Kapp said.
Analysts say that Abedini’s improved conditions and the possibility of his release do not change what has been assessed as the Obama administration’s neglect of the pastor’s plight.
WND reported in December that some analysts view the Obama administration as slow to act on the case because he’s a Christian.
William Murray, president of the Religious Freedom Coalition, told WND the Obama administration doesn’t see religion the same way a Christian would.
“He sees religion as a ‘tradition,’ as in the way Joe Biden says he’s from a Catholic tradition,” Murray said. “Obama, like most secularists, cannot understand religion affecting the lives of those that believe outside the setting of a church, hence his reference to freedom of worship that he confuses with freedom of religion.”
He said it’s the same reason Obama opposes religious influences in the military.
“This is also the core reason for making our professional army a godless one,” Murray explained. “He simply does not understand that God has a greater effect on the lives of believers than government. Like all other secularists, he sees government as God.”
Former PLO and Muslim Brotherhood operative turned religious liberty activist Walid Shoebat said the Obama administration has indeed sent signals that Christian persecution is not at the top of its priority list.
He said that became evident when Obama did not use the international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear operations to insist that Abedini be freed.
“To President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, securing an agreement with Iran over the nuclear issue was more important than human rights issues, including the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini,” Shoebat said.