NEW YORK — The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has pledged to continue to inplead the case of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran when she appears before the United Nations.
Samantha Power met with the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini on Friday at the U.S. Mission in New York City.
As previously reported, Abedini, a former Iranian 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, but was transferred to to Rajai Shahr Prison in 2013, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. He has reportedly experienced numerous brutal beatings behind bars from both the prison guards and his fellow cell mates.
Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, has been urging the American government to push for his release, speaking before Congressional committees and meeting with Barack Obama and other members of his administration. This week, in attending the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Naghmeh asked to meet with Power, and was granted 30 minutes of her time.
“I was encouraged to meet with Ambassador Power and to have her voice and her support for the unjust imprisonment of my husband, Pastor Saeed,” Abedini said in a statement after the meeting. “I entered this meeting with much prayer and hope that the Lord would use it to open doors for Saeed’s freedom.”
Power also Tweeted about the matter, pledging to continue to work to help free the pastor.
“Met w/brave @NaghmehAbedini today, wife of American pastor Saeed Abedini who is jailed in #Iran for his faith,” she wrote. “@NaghmehAbedini spoke about heartbreak of watching her 2 children grow up w/o father Saeed. We continue to work to bring him home from #Iran.”
Abedini also notes that on Thursday, she encountered Iran’s Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad and was able to speak to him about her husband.
“I ran into Ayatollah Mohaghegh Damad from Iran and addressed Saeed’s wrongful imprisonment in Iran and how no one should be persecuted for their religion and belief in Iran,” she wrote on Facebook. “He said he could not answer when Saeed would be released and I told him that Jesus Christ will free Saeed! That there is power in the name of Jesus! He was quite shaken to see me at this meeting and to hear the name of Jesus being proclaimed!”
Abedini says that she is “sensing a new boldness rising up … in proclaiming the name of Jesus” as she pleads for her husband’s release. On Saturday, she spoke before 100 parliament members from 50 countries, many of which are Muslim.
September 26 marks three years that Saeed Abedini has spent behind bars.