This week the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing featuring testimony from relatives of four American citizens — three imprisoned and one mysteriously missing in Iran. After listening to the impassioned pleas from the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, the sister of U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, the brother of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and the son of FBI official Robert Levinson, Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), who convened the hearing, said, “This Committee stands in solidarity with each of the Americans detained or missing in Iran.”
Naghmeh Abedini told the Committee, “I am here today as a single mother who is trying to be strong for her children, and as a wife who humbly admits, I need your help.” She recounted how she immigrated to the U.S. nearly thirty years ago and was given the freedom to accept Christ as her Savior. She added, “I felt safe knowing that my rights to choose my own religion would be protected and defended in this great country of the United States of America. Today my husband is suffering in the Iranian prison for this very reason.”
Mrs. Abedini, who during the hearing expressed frustration with the lack of results from the U.S. State Department’s sideline talks with Iranian officials about her husband, powerfully stated:
During the last 3 years Jesus has never abandoned Saeed and me. He has been with us during the fiery furnace even when the furnace had been heated seven times hotter than usual. He has dried every tear and has given us the strength to endure. I know that God is with us in this journey, but I also know that God can use men and women to bring about freedom and justice. I hope today that someone here is motivated to be that man or woman.
The Committee responded to this hearing by advancing a resolution authored by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) calling for the immediate release of these U.S. citizens. Chairman Royce asserted this should be “step one” in ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. He declared, “If top Iranian officials can’t be counted on to assist these wrongfully jailed Americans, can they be counted on to honor the commitments they make at the negotiating table?”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: June 5, 2015