While the Obama administration was busy celebrating a nuclear deal with Iran on Monday, at least three Americans – and likely a fourth – remained prisoners of the Islamic regime in Tehran.
“What happened today makes a bad deal even worse,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, after learning Monday’s nuclear agreement included no provisions for the release of American captives in Iran.
“We will now focus our attention on convincing Congress to reject this deal,” he said, according to Fox News.
Critics of the nuclear agreement blasted the Obama administration for failing to use the negotiations as leverage to force Iran to release former Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post Iran Bureau Chief Jason Rezaian and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini from Iranian custody. An ex-FBI agent, Robert Levinson, is also believed to be held by the regime, but Iran does not officially acknowledge it.
Sekulow described the Obama administration’s failure to negotiate on behalf of the imprisoned Americans “unconscionable,” and is pleading with Congress to take action.
Abedini was arrested by Iranian authorities in September 2012 while helping to build an orphanage on charges of “gathering with Christians” in private homes. His wife, Naghmeh, pleaded with Congress in a letter Tuesday to make sure her husband’s imprisonment is not forgotten when lawmakers vote on Obama’s nuclear agreement.
“My children have desperately missed the loving embrace of their father for the last three years of their lives,” she said.
“[These prisoners] are neither a mere statistic nor collateral damage in the world’s attempt to curtail Iran’s nuclear development. They are husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers,” she said. “Do not forget them.”
Despite failing to make provisions for their release part of the nuclear agreement, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Americans being held prisoner by Iran were not forgotten, claiming “these Americans have remained in our thoughts throughout this negotiation.”
But as Monday’s agreement demonstrates, the American prisoners were clearly never considered a vital requisite for reaching a deal.
To the men languishing in Iranian custody, that’s pretty much the same thing as being forgotten.