Over the past three years, DefendChristians.org has joined with millions of Christians across the country in lobbying the US State Department to intervene on behalf of Saeed Abedini, a Muslim-American convert to Christianity and pastor who was being held in an Iranian prison. On Saturday, January 16 it was announced Saeed and four other Americans would be released as the economic sanctions against Iran were being lifted.
Saeed was arrested in September 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of evangelizing, which the judge termed “threatening the national security of Iran.”
Abedini was tortured at various times throughout his imprisonment. Prison officials pressured him to recant his faith by threatening to hold him indefinitely. He was reportedly beaten and suffered internal bleeding. Saeed was expected to be taken on a Swiss airliner to Germany for medical tests due to the health concerns that were raised during his imprisonment.
Scores of religious leaders had advocated for Abedini’s freedom, even holding prayer vigils in front of the White House. Saeed’s wife, Naghmed, met with President Obama who promised to work to bring her husband home before his term ends.
The pastor’s wife said she heard about the release from friends in Iran who saw reports about it on state TV. At 6:44am Saturday morning Naghmed tweeted out confirmation of the media reports. “The children are excited. They’re beside themselves,” she told the Boise newspaper, Idaho Statesman. “They keep asking me, ‘When are we going to see him?'”
Naghmed said, “Over the past three years I have felt a huge weight, not only as a wife, but as a mom, seeing my kids in so much pain… I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.”
This all comes after a very surprising turn of events last November when Saeed’s wife stunned her husband’s supporters by publicly accusing her husband of various kinds of abuse.
Naghmeh Abedini asked for prayer for her husband’s transition back to freedom. “The journey is not over yet. He’s home, but there’s a lot of things that we’ll have to go through.”
“Thank God and thanks to all who have stood with us in prayer for Saeed’s release. We can’t imagine the horrific treatment Saeed has endured at the hands of his Iranian captors,” said Dr. Gary Cass of DefendChristians.Org.
“We need to continue to pray for Saeed and for his family.”