A Doctor, a Pastor, and a Soldier: Obama Looks Away
The title almost sounds like the beginning of a joke. Unfortunately this is not a joking matter. The lives of 3 men and their families are at a standstill.
The Doctor is Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden, leading to the May 2, 2011 raid by United States Navy SEALS who killed the Al Qaida leader. Because of his help in the case, Afridi was officially convicted 23 May 2012, of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison. Lawyers appealed against the verdict on 1 June 2012. His brother, Jamil Afridi, told Fox News back in December that he had been told that his brother had been tortured. A cousin and member of Dr. Afridi’s legal counsel backed Jamil’s claims, saying, “I received phone calls from people who have good connections with prison officials in Peshawar, and they told me Afridi has been physically tortured.”
Dr. Afridi’s next court hearing was supposed to be this week, but it’s been pushed back again to a date in June. He has been denied access to his family and legal team and stopped eating soon after an April 25 court date. A lawyer associated with Dr. Afridi’s case said of the treason charges, “There is no evidence. We are hopeful that the judgment will be passed in our favor unless pressure from Islamabad changes the decision.”
Back in December, a spokesperson for the Stated Department told FOX News, “As (then) Secretary Clinton has said, we believe that the prosecution and conviction of Dr. Afridi sends the wrong message about the importance of our shared interest in taking down one of the world’s most notorious terrorists….”
The Pastor is American pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently serving eight years in prison in Tehran, Iran. Abedini is an American citizen from Boise, Idaho. He had been kept in Iran’s Evin Prison since September, following his arrest. His supporters say he had been beaten and tortured in the prison. According to Jay Sekulow from the American Center for Law and Justice, Abedini was sentenced in Tehran to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches. The ACLJ reported that the evidence was based on Abedini’s activities primarily during the early 2000s, when house churches were not considered a threat in Iran.
Last month, the US State Department was supposed to appear before a congressional hearing on the pastor, but they never showed up. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the House, told Fox News at the time, “It is amazing…I can’t, almost, believe it…The very fact that the United States government is not speaking out sends a very powerful message.”
Jay Sekulow, who testified at the hearing, called the State Department’s absence “offensive.” In a statement to the press, he stated:
“Many nations – including the European Union – have highlighted Pastor Saeed’s case and called for his release before the U.N. Our government did not...With an opportunity to condemn Iran and demand his freedom on a global stage, the U.S. government never mentioned him at all – ignored the plight of a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran.”
Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, an American citizen, prepared a written statement for the hearing:
“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.”
Mrs. Abedini also expressed concern that her husband might not survive the “horrific Evin prison.” “The truth is we do not know if we will ever speak to him or see him again. Every day is a death sentence for him.”
On March 22 it was reported by the Christian Post that Pastor Saeed had sent a letter to his wife detailing the beatings and harsh treatment he had been experiencing in Evin Prison.
As of the latest report out May 1, the pastor is weak from months of beatings, and torture has resulted in internal bleeding and kidney problems. His family confirms that he, along with nine other prisoners have been placed in solitary confinement out of retaliation to a letter from prisoners who protested the lack of medical care and mistreatment of family members who try and visit.
Naghmeh Abedini fears for her husband. She spoke out on Fox News saying, “I am really disappointed in the way our government has handled this. I really expect our President to step it up . . . We try to protect U.S. citizens here who have committed horrific crimes against our government. We protect their rights. What about the rights of a U.S. citizen inside of Iran who is going through this because of his religious belief?”
At the time of this writing, it’s not known what will become of Pastor Saeed. I urge you to please write him a letter of encouragement at SaveSaeed.org.
The Soldier is US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan on 30 June 2009 by members of the Haqqani network, a Taliban allied insurgent group as he reportedly left his small outpost alone and apparently unarmed. Bowe along with three Afghan soldiers and reportedly sold to the militant. He has been missing ever since.
There have been reports about his possible whereabouts during the nearly 4 years he’s been gone, and some wonder if he’s even still alive. In April 2010 another video surfaced with Bowe pleading for his freedom saying, “I want to go home.” The video was the most recent proof that the 24-year-old American soldier was still alive.
On Tuesday, 9 April 2013 there was a Freedom March held in Washington, D.C. by P.O.W. Activist Organization “Honor-Release-Return” where Bowe’s father, Bob Bergdahl spoke out about his missing son, saying his son is “still alive”.
As Bowe’s family and friends await any word for the release of Bowe, we find news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai talked openly about receiving ongoing payments from the CIA. The U.S. has spent nearly a $1 trillion in Afghanistan, not including CIA cash payments to the Karzai government. Since Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009 and surged U.S. forces by 30,000 troops, U.S. death rates have tripled in Afghanistan alone. Yet we’re still paying the Afghan government billions.
Between 2002-2010, Pakistan received approximately $18 billion in military and economic aid from the US. In February 2010, the Obama administration requested an additional $3 billion in aid, for a total of $20.7 billion. Both nations have done or cared little about doing anything to listen to US requests for release of Doctor Afridi or the return of US Soldier Bow Bergdahl.
While Obama has been partying, playing golf, blaming America for Mexico’s drug violence, and praising a gay basketball star, he’s been AWOL when it comes to a Doctor, a Pastor and a Soldier.