BOISE, Idaho — Barack Obama met with the wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran on Wednesday after she made the request when she learned that he would be visiting her area to give a speech at a public university.
Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Saeed Abedini, who has been incarcerated in Iran for two years, posted about the private meeting on her Facebook page later in the day. She had requested the face-to-face discussion in an effort to seek help for her husband as she learned that Obama would be coming to Boise State University.
“I got to meet with President Obama today! The kids and I were in a small office room with him and he was gracious with his time (we met for over 10 minutes),” she wrote. “I told him that I had refrained from food for three days and prayed and fasted, and God had ordained this meeting.”
“He said that getting Saeed out is a top priority and he is working very hard to get Saeed home back to our family,” Abedini explained.
She stated that her young son also made a special request of Obama.
“Jacob then asked him, ‘Mr. President, can you please bring my daddy home for my birthday?'” Abedini recalled. “President Obama asked Jacob when his birthday was, and Jacob said March 17. President Obama said, ‘I am going to try very hard to make that happen, Jacob. I am going to try very hard…’ Praise God!”
She said that Obama advised her to get in touch with his administration’s new religious freedom ambassador, and that Secretary of State John Kerry has mentioned her husband on a number of occasions.
As previously reported, Saeed Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and two children to find religious freedom after facing conflict with authorities for planting house churches in the county. In 2012, he traveled back to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents—and was about to return to the states—when he was taken into custody.
Abedini was later charged with threatening the national security of Iran, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity. He was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has spent the past two years behind bars.
In November 2013, Abedini was transported to Rajai Shahr Prison, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. In May, while obtaining treatment at a local hospital for injuries sustained from beatings, he was likewise beaten and returned to prison.
In August, Abedini’s children appeared in an online video plea to Obama, asking that he “help bring [their] daddy home.”
“My heart cries because it misses Daddy,” Jacob Abedini explained. “When I sleep, it cries, and it misses Daddy a lot … a thousand lots.”
“[I]t doesn’t stop crying,” he continued. “And it’s crying right now.”