When the Obama administration announced what it characterized as a breakthrough deal with Iran on its nuclear weapons program, the apparent culmination of multi-lateral talks in the works for years, supporters of three men believed held in the Islamic Republic wondered why their freedom wasn’t part of the negotiation.
The State Department responded by saying talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers focused solely on the nuclear issue, leaving no room for appeals on behalf of Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson. But recent reports say the U.S.-Iran negotiations that led to the Swiss talks included the release of an Iranian nuclear scientist arrested in 2011 for trying to aid his nation’s nuclear program by circumventing western sanctions.
State Department officials have maintained that the Obama administration has continued to press for the American trio’s freedom, just not as part of the nuclear talks. But Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, who represents Abedini’s family, said freeing an Iranian prisoner while Americans languish in Tehran was wrong.
“This is betrayal,” Sekulow told Fox News today. “A betrayal because not only did they not get the release of the three Americans, but they said they are working on this ‘on the margins.’ Our citizens are on the margins and then we are releasing an Iranian convicted on working on the nuclear issue.”