An effort to secure the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini
Proposal letter to Grand Ayatollah Khamenei
To His Excellency Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei:
I am writing to you to propose a prisoner exchange for Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini who is currently being held in Rajai Shahr Prison. Effective immediately, I, Río Tenango, volunteer to serve Saeed Abedini’s remaining sentence in part or whole. Such an arrangement would appease the West without compromising the national support base of Iranian politicians. This approach would also circumvent diplomatic setbacks that would result from Mr. Abedini’s death while in your care. The international community would have no grounds on which to protest your government concerning my volitional presence within your prison facility. This proposal is not based in protest; as I acknowledge that Saeed Abedini participated in religious activities at odds with Iranian law, whether written or implied. My confidence in the terms of an agreement would rest solely on your word as a statesman and spiritual leader, i.e., not in the mandate of the U.S. State Department. I would not expect nor request special treatment as an inmate within your prison system. In fact, I anticipate to experience the same living conditions currently imposed on Mr. Abedini.
It is important to note this is not the first time I have risked my personal welfare on the international stage in an independent and unconventional manner. In 2008, my devout Christian beliefs led me to Sudan, where I played an unofficial, yet significant, role in preventing the deaths of thousands of Muslims. Today, as Christian Pastor Abedini’s detention remains a source of contention between Iran and the United States, my conscience denies me spectator-status as I face the following question: If a single selfless act by a single common man can help unlock the horns of two great nations, then who am I to stand aside?
On January 21, 2014, I contacted Mr. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, to recommend pursuing this course of action on her husband’s behalf. Though grateful, she would not support my intervention in this way. Naghmeh does not want my family to suffer as her family has suffered. I found her resolve quite remarkable, especially since her husband’s health is failing and her options for securing his release are limited. A person of lesser quality would have supported my offer without hesitation.
Although I am not an official diplomat in any capacity, I am confident that world leaders, such as Your Excellency, appreciate unofficial solutions to official problems. Since I, too, am a man of strong faith, I understand your position regarding Mr. Abedini’s actions. You simply have an unyielding desire to maintain the integrity of the Islamic faith. I do not know the content of the Koran nor the nuances of Iranian law, so I will not speak to you of justice. All I request of you, on Saeed Abedini’s behalf, is to exhibit a teacup portion of mercy.
With humble sincerity,
Name: Río Azure Tenango
Age: 42 years
Height: 6ft 2in (1.8m)
Weight: 160 pounds (72.5kg)
Marital Status: Married to Leah Pries-Tenango
Education: Bachelor of Science
Occupation: urban wildlife relocation expert (self-employed)
Military experience: none
Visits to Iran: none
Fluency level in Farsi: 0
Current medications: none