WASHINGTON -- The wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran has a message for America's top political leaders: don't forget her husband.
Nagmeh Abedini made that plea Thursday at a hearing on Capitol Hill.
The hearing focused solely on the plight of her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, a native-born Iranian who eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Last summer, Pastor Abedini traveled to the Islamic Republic to help with an orphanage for Iranian kids. While there, he was arrested and charged with being a "threat to Iran's national security."
Abedini was convicted and sentenced to an eight-year term in January of this year; he has languished in prison ever since.
His attorneys, along with his wife and their two young children, are pleading for his release.
They say his sentence is based on trumped-up charges. They believe he's imprisoned because he's a former Muslim who converted to Christianity.
His wife said she feels let down by her country, the U.S. government, especially since his release was not a pre-condition to the recently brokered U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal.
She had sharp words for leaders at the highest levels of government.
"When I spoke in front of the Lantos Commission in March, I had anticipated I would battle the Iranian government for my husband's freedom. I never anticipated that I would have to battle my own government," she said. "How strong is our American president? How serious is he about American security? Would he act immediately with firm resolve to protect and defend?
Nagmeh Abedini said she will not give up. As long as her husband is alive, she'll continue to fight for his freedom.
Members of Congress also made that pledge, saying they'll hold the administration's feet to the fire and demand proactive steps to secure his release.
They want to make sure, for anyone who's listening, that Saeed Abedini's name will ring out in the halls of Congress and echo around the world.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Pastor Abedini and his family, say his life is in jeopardy. He has been repeatedly beaten and tortured, prevented from taking his medication, and was transferred to a prison housing men convicted of rape and murder.
Be sure your voice is heard. Add your name to the hundreds of thousands calling for Pastor Saeed's release at BeHeardProject.com.