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Published On: Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

Saeed Abedini prison time in Iran is now over two years

Naghmeh Abedini and a large group gathered in a park near the White House to honor and pray for strength as her husband, Saeed, passed the second anniversary of his imprisonment.

She read from Saeed’s letter to his daughter, Rebekkah, who turned eight years old.

“Let Daddy hear you sing a loud Hallelujah that I can hear all the way here in the prison,” she said, her voice shaking.

Saeed AbediniSupporters had gathered near the White House for a prayer vigil and called for the release of Saeed Abedini, the American pastor unjustly imprisoned for his faith and mission work.

It was the first of hundreds of vigils planned around the world on the two-year anniversary of Abedini’s imprisonment since he was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and sentenced to eight years for allegedly proselytizing his Christian faith, a crime in Muslim-ruled Iran.

“Now that we mark these two years, it’s time for Saeed to be home,” said Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based conservative Christian law firm that presses for Abedini’s release.

“It’s time for our governments and governments around the world to work together to get Saeed home,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart last week during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, but it wasn’t known whether he’d raised the issue of Abedini.

In an emailed statement Friday, Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the department remained concerned about Abedini’s health and welfare. “We continue to pursue all available options to secure the safe return of Mr. Abedini, as well as the other detained or missing U.S. citizens in Iran,” she said.

Patrick Clawson, the director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the Obama administration had kept Abedini’s case – as well as other issues, such as Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad – separate from the ongoing negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program, the subject of Kerry’s meeting in New York.

“The administration is just not going to make a nuclear deal, in any way, hostage or contingent on progress on any of these cases,” said Clawson, who’s written several books on Iran.

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