Senators decry US pastor’s imprisonment in Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators at a subcommittee hearing have been told that high-level U.S. attention to Iran’s imprisonment of American Pastor Saeed Abedini is helping to keep him alive.

Abedini has been in Iranian custody since September 2012 and was sentenced to eight years in prison for what was termed undermining state security. President Barack Obama has called for the Christian pastor’s release and met with his wife and children in Idaho in January.

At Wednesday’s appropriations subcommittee hearing, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt expressed amazement that amid nuclear negotiations with Iran, “we couldn’t get one person out of prison that nobody in this country believes should be there.”

A leading advocate for the jailed pastor, attorney Jay Sekulow, agreed that Iran’s release of Abedini would be “a confidence building measure.” But he said Obama’s personal appeal and the congressional hearing are helping keep Abedini alive in one of Iran’s most dangerous prisons.

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