‘This is an answer to prayer’ says his wife, Naghmeh
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service (Breaking News)
IRAN (ANS – January 16, 2016) – After more than three years of brutal imprisonment in Iran for his Christian activities, Pastor Saeed Abedini, 35, has become a free man and will soon be reunited with his wife and two children in the United States.
Three other US citizens have also been released, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, 39, who was convicted of espionage in Iran last year, as well as Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosravi.
It is believed they were released as Iran anticipates the lifting of international sanctions.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who has been representing the Abedini family, Pastor Saeed had initially been taken from his prison cell to Iran’s Central Intelligence agency on Friday (January 15, 2016), and was freed today (Saturday, January 16, 2016).
“We’re delighted this day has finally arrived,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “Pastor Saeed should never have been imprisoned in the first place. He spent more than three years in an Iranian prison. We’re grateful for the millions of people who have stood with us in our ongoing efforts—both in this country and abroad—to secure his release.
“We have worked and prayed that this day would finally arrive. And now, Pastor Saeed can return home.”
On hearing the news, Pastor Saeed’s crusading wife Naghmeh, responded: “This has been an answer to prayer. This is a critical time for me and my family. We look forward to Saeed’s return and want to thank the millions of people who have stood with us in prayer during this most difficult time.”
News reports say that the four were swapped for seven Iranians held in US prisons, but there was no immediate US confirmation. The Iranian state news agency listed the seven as Nader Modanlo, Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghani, Arash Ghahreman, Tooraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Saboun.
In addition, Iranian state TV said 14 Iranians sought by the US would be removed from an Interpol wanted list.
News of the releases came after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif predicted that international sanctions against his country would be lifted on Saturday.
He is in Vienna for talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry over Iran’s nuclear deal.
The international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is expected to confirm that Iran has scaled back its atomic activities in line with the agreement.
Billions of dollars of frozen Iranian assets are expected to be released and the sale of Iranian oil on the world market will again be permitted.
Saeed Abedini, who was born on May 7, 1980 in Iran and is a convert to Christianity, was arrested in 2012 and convicted the next year on charges of attempting to undermine the Iranian government. He had been sentenced to eight years in prison.
His arrest came three years after he had previously been arrested by Iranian authorities and later released after agreeing to stop organizing churches in homes. His 2012 arrest came during a trip to help build a state-run secular orphanage.
The ACLJ reported that Abedini has endured torture during his imprisonment and was beaten by fellow prisoners in June. He suffered injuries to his face during that incident, the center reported.
The Abedini family, which also includes children Rebekka and Jacob, have a home in Boise, Idaho, but it is not yet known where Saeed will go to, as the family will want time together before meeting the media the media.
Photo captions: 1) The Abedini family in America before his arrest. 2) Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini. 3) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California, and has reported widely for ANS from all over the world.
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