American Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Set Free in Prisoner Swap

Abedini 4KARAJ, Iran — An American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran for over three years as part of an eight-year prison sentence has been set free in a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran.

“It is confirmed: Saeed is released!” Saeed Abedini’s wife Naghmeh posted on social media this morning.

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 experienced numerous beatings behind bars ever since, and has struggled with severe physical pain and threats that he would not be released until he returns to Islam.

Nonetheless, Abedini has encouraged Christians from behind bars to stand strong for their faith.

“[B]rothers and sisters, the fact of the gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus,” he wrote in a letter in 2014.

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“Today, we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the word of life and salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection,” he said. “We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world.”

Abedini’s wife has worked tirelessly for her husband’s release, even meeting personally with Barack Obama last January along with the couple’s two young children.

In September, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters during a visit to New York that he would consider setting Abedini free if the U.S. released Iranian citizens who were likewise being held.

“If the Americans take the appropriate actions vis-a-vis Iranian citizens who are being imprisoned here, then the right atmosphere and environment will be created for reciprocal action perhaps,” he told CNN’s Christianne Amanpour.

Now, according to reports, Iran has released four U.S. prisoners in exchange for seven Iranians being held in America.

“Prosecutor Abbas Jaafari told IRNA that four dual nationality Iranian-American prisoners, passing prison terms in Iran, will be exchanged with seven Iranian nationals languishing at the U.S. jails,” reports the Islamic Republic News Agency. “The settlement included a clause according to which the US will no longer pursue extradition of 14 Iranians for alleged involvement in purchasing arms from the US to Iran.”

Others expected to be released include Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and American businessman Siamak Namazi.

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  • Simon Timothy

    Praise God!!!!!

  • jlfenton

    In two emails to supporters, Abedini revealed details of her troubled marriage to Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and pastor imprisoned in Iran since September 2012.

    Those troubles include “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography),” she wrote. The abuse started early in their marriage and has worsened during Saeed’s imprisonment, she said. The two are able to speak by phone and Skype.

    Touring the country to advocate for Saeed’s release while coping with marital conflict proved too much, she wrote. She told supporters she’s withdrawing from public life for a time of prayer and rest.

    “It is very serious stuff and I cannot live a lie anymore,” she wrote. “So, I have decided to take a break from everything and seek the Lord on how to move forward.”

  • snowsbeloved

    Just a shame that we get only four prisoners released for seven of theirs and I doubt that the seven the US released were treated as badly as Saeed and the others have been. Not fair but still rejoicing. This is a long time coming…

  • acontraryview

    Wonderful news!

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    Still, few on this site will give Obama and Kerry any credit for a successful negotiation with Iran.

    • Guest

      That’s because they sold the US out to get this. They could have had Saeed free years ago. It didn’t have to take this long.

      • BarkingDawg


        • Guest

          The same way former Canadian PM Stephen Harper was able to get a non-Canadian Iranian free from the death penalty and free from jail – by pointing out how horrible Iran looked in the world, and refusing to have anything to do with them until they changed their policy. If the US was strong, Americans wouldn’t have been jailed in Iran in the first place.

    • afchief

      0bama and Kerry are criminals and should be in jail!!!

      Watch what happens when Iran gets a Nuclear bomb. Watch what happens what Iran does with the $150 billion 0lawless gave them.

      Yes, 0liar is a criminal!!!

  • BarkingDawg

    Thanks, Obama!

  • afchief

    Praise God these people our released, but these Americans were not, “Prisoners” they were, “Hostages!” Let’s make that clear, they were being held, no charges were filed against them! They were, “Barter” be assured it will happen again! You cannot make treaties with, criminals!

    This means that now the US negotiates with terrorists.

  • Chrissy Vee

    :’) Hallelujah! o/

  • Fee

    To God be the glory! Daily prayers for him answered.