Iranian Official: Held US Citizens, Including Abedini, Discussed At Nuke Talks

Jul 22, 2015

Credit Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

Iran's deputy foreign minister says Iranian diplomats discussed the case of Americans still held captive by Tehran. That includes Boise pastor Saeed Abedini. The issue was raised on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna earlier this month that led to the landmark deal on curbing Iran's nuclear program.

Abbas Araghchi told reporters in the Iranian capital on Wednesday that cases of "imprisoned citizens" were discussed with their American counterparts during the nuclear talks.

He says "humanitarian" reasons had motivated the discussion but did not elaborate.

It was the first confirmation by the Iranians of any talks that may have involved the fate of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and retired FBI agent Robert Levinson.

Araghchi spoke on the first anniversary of Rezaian's arrest on espionage charges.

Abedini was convicted in Iran in 2013 of undermining state security by establishing Christian churches in private homes. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Saeed's wife Naghmeh and his two children live in Boise. She said she was disappointed her husband wasn't included in the Iran deal. She says she'll appeal to Congress next. She says if Congress signs off on a deal that does not include her husband his chances of freedom will drop.

“If Congress does not push for the release of the Americans, that’s the last push and we will lose all leverage [with Iran].”

In May and June of this year, both the U.S. House and Senate passed resolutions demanding Iran release Abedini and the other American prisoners.

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