American businessman Donald Trump criticized President Barack Obama's failure to negotiate with Iran for the release of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini. The pastor's wife, Naghmeh, expressed her gratitude toward Trump.
"I am very happy to hear that he is doing this, because this is the first example of anyone outside of the legal and political areas speaking out. I hope that more people like him will speak out," Naghmeh Abedini told WND.com.
"I would very much like to meet him and thank him for what he has done in bringing awareness to this issue," she added. "Every voice counts and especially voices like Mr. Trump's. I'm just thankful he's using his voice to speak out against this injustice." more >>
The family of Pastor Saeed Abedini said in a recent interview that they are "devastated" that the Obama administration failed to secure Abedini's release during recent negotiation talks with Iran, in which the Middle Eastern country agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for lighter economic sanctions. Abedini is an American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran over the past year for his Christian faith.
"As a wife and a mom, it's devastating," Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife, told Fox News Radio. Naghmeh and her family saw these recent peace talks between Iran and the U.S. as a possible opportunity for Abedini to be released from his eight-year prison sentence. The pastor was sentenced in January 2013 under the charges of "planting house churches that are intended to undermine national security."
Naghmeh added to Fox News Radio that she now believes the U.S. has no leveraging power since making the nuclear program deal. "Iran has no incentive for them to release him. I don't think we have any more leverage. We now have to consider other avenues and having other countries speak out because our country when we could have used our leverage chose to stay silent." more >>
Americans are being encouraged to leave an empty dinner place on Thanksgiving Day for Saeed Abedini as a sign of solidarity with the imprisoned American pastor. A group is also setting up a Thanksgiving display in front of the White House to petition for his release.
"While Americans enjoy the blessings of spending Thanksgiving Day with family and friends, it is important to remember that millions around the world are being brutalized, persecuted and attacked for their Christian faith. Thousands are in prison," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.
"Pastor Saeed will not be able to spend this special day with his wife and two young children, but instead will be spending it in a cramped prison facing constant violence and persecution." more >>
The family of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran has finally been allowed to visit him in Rajai Shahr Prison, where he was abruptly transferred to earlier this month. But the U.S. citizen is still being denied the medication that he needs.
"Pastor Saeed's situation remains dire. However, we are encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed visitation – and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him. Pastor Saeed, however, has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors," the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported in an update on the pastor's condition on Monday.
The update served as the first physical confirmation of Pastor Saeed's condition and life since he was taken out of Evin Prison earlier this month and transferred to Rajai Shahr. The law group, which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S., noted that the pastor is being kept inside the violent criminal ward and is sharing a cell with other prisoners. more >>
A pastor in Los Angeles has been dismissed from his role as top aid to the local sheriff's department after it was discovered he owns a property in South Los Angeles that houses a medical marijuana shop.
Bishop Edward R. Turner, who has worked as a paid field deputy for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and served as the head of the department's Multi-Faith Clergy Council for over a decade, was given paid leave from his position beginning Tuesday after the department learned that the property he owns at 1425 W. Manchester Ave. in South Los Angeles, across the street from his Power of Love Christian Fellowship ministries and church, was housing a medical marijuana shop that does not fit the criteria for medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the city's voters in May. The city has been on a slow mission to close the clinics that do not fit the voter-approved criteria passed by Proposition D.
In addition to having this marijuana dispensary on his property, Turner is also being investigated for his involvement in the Helping Our People Excel for Life Foundation, a nonprofit community group that had its charity status recently revoked after it failed to file taxes for the past three years. Public records indicate Turner is listed as chairman and founder of the nonprofit. more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been denied medication and blankets his father tried to give him in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, with prison officials saying the U.S. citizen is not allowed to have any personal belongings. The update follows reports that the prison is severely overcrowded, leading to "deadly and inhuman" conditions.
"Saeed's health had been improving with his medication in Evin prison, but with horrendous conditions in Rajai Shahr and the lack of proper medication, Saeed's health will likely deteriorate quickly," wrote Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), in an update on Monday on the pastor's condition.
The ACLJ, which represents the pastor's wife and two children in the U.S., reported that Abedini had been moved from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr last week, though an explanation for this sudden change has not been provided. An international campaign backed by a number of U.S. political leaders, including President Barack Obama, has called for the pastor's release, but so far Iranian authorities have refused to release him or reduce his eight-year sentence. more >>