Wife of imprisoned Boise pastor testifies before congressional committee

Wife of imprisoned Boise pastor testifies before congressional committee »Play Video

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Nagmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Boise pastor Saeed Abedini, took her struggle to free her husband from an Iranian jail to Capitol Hill Thursday.

She told members of a House foreign affairs subcommittee that the Obama administration should have used a recent nuclear deal with Iran as leverage to free her husband and two other Americans held in Iranian prisons.

Instead she told lawmakers the topic never came up in negotiations.

"My husband is suffering because he's a Christian, and he is suffering because he's an American," she said. "And yet his country did not fight for him when they sat across the table from his captors."

Her story fell on sympathetic ears.

"It should have been center stage," said Rep. Chris Smith, (R) New Jersey. "Every conversation we had with the Iranians should have begun with Saeed Abedini and ended with Saeed Abedini."

Nagmeh Abedini said: "I'm very much upset by it, and I feel abandoned and i feel my husband has been abandoned. And I do hope he survives that prison."

Saeed Abedini, 34,  converted from Islam to Christianity more than a decade ago, and worships at the Calvary Chapel in Boise.

At another hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, a member of the Obama Administration defended the decision to separate the imprisoned Americans from nuclear discussions with Iran.

"Frankly we don't want them to become pawns in the negotiations," said Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. "We don't want Iran to up the ante either on the nuclear side, or the American citizens side."

But Nagmeh Abedini feels a pawn is precisely what her husband has become.