Not surprising at all. “State Department ducks hearing on American pastor imprisoned in Iran,” by Judson Berger for FoxNews.com, March 15 (thanks to Lookmann):
The State Department ducked a hearing Friday that will focus on the case of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, just days after the leading U.S. representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council declined to specifically address the pastor’s case during a meeting on Iran’s human rights record.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the Capitol Hill commission holding the hearing, slammed the Obama administration for turning down the invitation to testify.
“It is amazing,” Wolf told FoxNews.com. “I can’t, almost, believe it.”
The hearing, which began Friday morning, focuses on the plight of religious minorities in Iran. Slated to testify are the group representing the Abedini family in the U.S. as well as Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission reached out to the State Department last Friday in a bid to bring in a State Department witness to speak on the lead-off panel.
A Wolf aide said despite repeated attempts they didn’t hear back from the department until Thursday, when the department said no one was available.
Wolf voiced skepticism at the excuse. “The building is loaded with people,” he said of the State Department.
“The very fact that the United States government is not speaking out sends a very powerful message,” Wolf said.
Abedini converted from Islam to Christianity in 2000 and became a U.S. citizen in 2010 after he married his American wife. The Iranian government does not recognize his American citizenship, though it had enabled him to travel freely between both countries until this past summer, when he was pulled off a bus and placed under house arrest, according to his supporters.
The Obama administration has publicly called for Abedini’s release. But Naghmeh Abedini recently told Fox News that she has not received a phone call from President Obama or the secretary of state.
In prepared testimony for Friday”s hearing, she plans to say she is “disappointed” with the U.S. government.
“I am disappointed that our president and our State Department have not fully engaged this case — disappointed that this great country is not doing more to free my husband, a U.S. citizen. We are both proud to be American citizens. And I expect more from our government,” she plans to say….
Wolf said he can only assume the State Department’s message to Americans abroad is: “Just don’t get arrested in a foreign country.”
Or “Just don’t cross the mullahs,” or “Just don’t violate Sharia laws regarding apostasy and proselytizing.”