Saeed Abedini's wife: Iranian leader's call for prisoner exchange 'absurd, insulting'

Pastor Saeed Abedini with his wife Naghmeh and their two young children in an undated family photo.(ACLJ.ORG)

The statement made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that he is willing to free Pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans languishing in Iranian prisons in exchange for 19 Iranians allegedly detained in the US, is "absurd'' and an ''insulting demand," Abedini's wife Nagmeh said.

Naghmeh told FoxNews that her husband—who is serving an eight-year sentence in one of Iran's toughest prisons simply for sharing his Christian faith—has broken no Iranian laws, and that the Iranian government should stop holding his husband as a hostage for ransom.

"My husband is not collateral. He is a father and a man who broke no law. Yet Iran is treating him like a pawn in a game of chess. President Rouhani's demand that America release 19 criminals in exchange for his consideration of releasing individuals like my husband, imprisoned solely for his faith, demonstrates that the Iran of today is no different than the Iran who took Americans hostage during the Iranian revolution,'' she said.

In her Facebook page, Nagmeh cited a UN report, saying "Iran is breaking its own laws and international laws that they have agreed to by keeping Saeed in prison.''

Rouhani earlier told CNN during the UN General Assembly in New York that he is willing make the deal provided that 19 Iranian citizens in US custody charged with violating sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme would also be released.

The Iranian president said such offenses lodged against them should now be considered moot following the approval of the US-brokered nuclear deal, which relaxes the sanctions against Iran in exchange for the promise of nuclear inspections.

Naghmeh said Iran should be doing more to show good faith to the global community after the lifting of sanctions.

"The environment is ripe for Iran to demonstrate it is ready to re-enter the global market and international scene of diplomats; it is time to show its good will, to change its image from one of a pariah to a member of the global society who will protect fundamental rights," she said.

Fox News reported that supporters of the three other American prisoners, including former US Marine Amir Hekmati and Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, wanted their release to be part of the nuclear deal, where the US and other world powers agreed to release more than $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets in exchange for the curtailment of Iran's nuclear programme.

However, the US negotiating team, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, reportedly resisted linking the fate of the prisoners to the deal.

Over  one million people have already signed a petition seeking the freedom of Pastor Saeed, Fox News said.