January 27, 2016

Iranian pastor’s wife files court papers against recently freed husband

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Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Iranian-American minister Saeed Abedini, shown here at Capitol Hill , is unhappy U.S.-Iran nuclear deal overlooked freeing her husband. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Iranian-American minister Saeed Abedini, shown here at Capitol Hill , is unhappy U.S.-Iran nuclear deal overlooked freeing her husband. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) The recently freed Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini has been reunited with his children in Boise, Idaho. But the Abedini family may be in for tough times after his wife took legal action against him in court.

“Nothing has made me happier than seeing Saeed freed from his chains and in American soil,” Naghmeh Abedini posted to her 80,000 Facebook friends Wednesday (Jan. 27), while adding that she filed domestic legal papers to ensure her children stay in Boise.

Saeed was released on Jan. 16 after nearly three and a half years in prison in Iran.

Saeed Abedini, far right, the Iranian-American pastor released last weekend from Iran, is greeted by his parents, sister and Franklin Graham after arriving on Jan. 21, 2016 in the United States. Abedini will spend time resting at the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina. Photo by David K. Morrison, courtesy of Samaritan's Purse

Saeed Abedini, far right, the Iranian-American pastor released this month from Iran, is greeted by his parents, sister and Franklin Graham after arriving on Jan. 21, 2016, in the United States. Photo by David K. Morrison, courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse


RELATED STORY: Why imprisoned pastor’s wife kept her marital abuse a secret — until now


In her post, Naghmeh said she regretted hiding from the public her allegations of domestic abuse. She also said that three months ago her husband threatened her with divorce.

“Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer. He threatened that if I did not, the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children.”

As of yet, Saeed has not commented publicly about the case filing or his wife’s abuse allegations, which first surfaced in November. His spokesperson did not immediately respond to a reporter’s inquiry.

In his first interview since release from prison, Saeed told Fox News he was beaten during a prison interrogation and threatened with execution.

Iran sentenced Saeed to eight years in prison, but detailed charges were not made public. At the time of his arrest, Saeed was setting up a home for orphans. Previously, he was involved in creating a network of house churches, something that Iranian authorities prohibit.

On Facebook, Naghmeh said her goal was reconciliation, not divorce. “I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved. I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer. We cannot go on the way it has been. I hope and pray our marriage can be healed.”

Her Facebook followers were largely supportive of the court action. “Saddened by the truth but the truth always sets free,” one woman posted in the comments section. The Abedinis are members of Calvary Chapel in Boise.

Through much of 2015, Naghmeh engaged in a nationwide campaign to secure her husband’s release from prison, drawing the attention of President Obama and top human rights and religious leaders.

In early January, Iran and the U.S. agreed to a “prisoner swap” that resulted in the release of Abedini, Nosratollah Khosrawi, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and  former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati. The U.S. released seven Iranians held in U.S. prisons, and so far all seven have chosen to remain in the U.S.

(Timothy C. Morgan is an RNS correspondent)

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  • PatKirwan

    Something has not been right with this whole sorry story for a long time. I believe much more will come out and it will likely involve deep deception by both parties. For example, nobody has explained how Saeed was able to freely communicate with the world from inside one of the most brutal prisons on earth, when none of the other US prisoners were able to get a single word out. Saeed was even purportedly sending love poems, festive greetings etc. Bizarre. Then, in November Naghmeh publicly declared he has been abusing her by skype and phone. What?! He was supposed to being tortured and abused much of the time, when it turns out he was actually sitting in front of a computer? A question for the Abedinis: Was Saeed even in prison for the later part of his time in Iran, or was he under house arrest in his parents’ home? Things just don’t add up.

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  • William Bockstael

    The truth is out there….

  • sabrina

    There is a lot “missing” to this story. It never sat well with me. Now she is saying she was speaking with him on the phone 6 to 8 hours? Skype? telling the media and the christian world the kids have not spoken to their dad? saeed watching movies on his wife’s amazon account? Him speaking that he was beaten relentlessly and no evidence of it. he mentions on the van sustren show that the guard picked up an iron chair and whacked him with it on the head. He appears to have NO visible scars? just all weird.

  • Daffy

    Sabrina, I agree…Something is not right about all of this and I have suspected so from the very beginning of this “imprisonment”