Obama Urges Saeed's Release on Iranian Holiday
President Obama is calling on Iran to release pastor Saeed Abedini and two other Americans imprisoned in the Islamic state Friday.
The White House made the statement on the Iranian holiday of Nowruz, the New Year. Iran often grants a reprieve or even release prisoners to celebrate the holiday, according the American Center for Law and Justice.
"Today, as families across the world gather to mark this holiday, we remember those American families who are enduring painful separation from their loved ones who are imprisoned or went missing in Iran," Obama wrote.
"Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho has spent two and a half years detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs. He must be returned to his wife and two young children who needlessly continue to grow up without their father (I) call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaiin and to work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson so that they all can be safely reunited with their families as soon as possible," he said.
In its own written statement, the ACLJ expressed gratitude to the president for his commitment to bringing imprisoned U.S. citizens home from Iran.
"It is engagement at the highest level that continues to put pressure on Iran to release Pastor Saeed - a U.S. citizen," the ACLJ said.
The ACLJ encouraged the administration to continue to use all its power as it negotiates a nuclear agreement with Iran over the next few weeks.
"No American should be left behind to suffer unjustly in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith," the ACLJ said.
Abedini's son, Jacob, turned 7 years old this week. In a meeting with Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children earlier this year,the president pledged to try and bring Saeed home in time for the boy's birthday.
In a heartfelt letter to his son, Saeed wrote "My chains are keeping me from you.
**To help support efforts to bring Pastor Saeed home and stop worldwide Christian persecution, add your name to the ACLJ's petition for his freedom at BeHeardProject.com***