Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of pastor Saeed Abedini, an American who has been detained inside of the brutal Iranian prison system since 2012, is speaking out following the controversial nuclear agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers, questioning why the Obama administration would start negotiations while her husband, among others, remains imprisoned in the Middle Eastern country.
"It's been a difficult few weeks, but by God's grace, [I'm] carrying on and pushing forward," Abedini told The Church Boys podcast in the wake of the agreement. "We had been hoping that his release would have happened much sooner, but he still languishes in the Iranian prison."
She said that she had been hoping for a phone call from the State Department indicating that her husband would finally be coming home, but that she ended up receiving a very different message on the day that the agreement was made.
"On the day the agreement was made I got a call from the State Department that Saeed's release had not been secured yet," Abedini said. "And I couldn't get any firm time or any promises of what was happening. It was really hard to hear that."
Listen to Abedini share her experience below:
Abedini said that she and her family had originally hoped that the Obama administration would secure her husband's release before embarking on the negotiating process, but that it didn't happen.
"From day one, we had said that even before we started negotiating with Iran on the deal, we should have — as the United States of America — have said, 'Release the American hostages, and then we can talk about the nuclear deal,'" she said. "I've never wanted Saeed part of the deal ... having to think that we ever gave up anything for my husband in terms of such a big issue."
Abedini said that the U.S. government has maintained that it continues to work on the sidelines to try and release Abedini, among other Americans who remain imprisoned, adding that it was a "huge disappointment" to see the deal entered into and finalized before that happened.
"I believe we're losing more and more leverage," Abedini said.
Disappointment aside, she continues to advocate for her husband's release, while raising her two children, Rebecca, 8, and Jacob, 7, who she said are struggling with their father's continued absence; her husband, too, has experienced pain watching his children grow up without him.
Saeed Abedini was first arrested in 2012 on charges stemming from meetings he had with other Christians inside private homes — an act that is not illegal in Iran. Read more about his ongoing case here.