BOISE, Idaho — An American pastor who had been imprisoned in Iran for three years until he was freed in January in a prisoner swap with the U.S. has announced that he is divorcing his wife out of his belief that they are “different people” and that the “only path toward healing is apart.”
“My heart is deeply saddened to be sharing the news that Naghmeh and I will be divorcing,” Saeed Abedini publicly posted to social media on Wednesday.
“There are no words to describe the ongoing effect of the trauma I experienced and my family has experienced both during and in the aftermath of my imprisonment. We are different people, and we are hurting people. It pains me to say, but I have decided the only path toward healing is apart, and not together,” he said.
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 when he was taken into custody.
He was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, but was transferred to to Rajai Shahr Prison in 2013, where he remained until January, when he and other Americans were set free in a prisoner swap with Iran.
But last November, his wife Naghmeh, who had been tirelessly urging the U.S. government to work toward Abedini’s release, announced that she would place her efforts on hold, citing marital issues.
“It is very serious stuff and I cannot live a lie anymore,” she wrote in an email to supporters. “So, I have decided to take a break from everything and seek the Lord on how to move forward.”
Naghmeh Abedini asserted that she had suffered “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse” stemming from her husband’s alleged porn addiction—abuse that she said worsened during Abedini’s imprisonment in Iran.
When Abedini returned to the states, she filed for a restraining order and sought legal separation.
But Abedini denied the claims, telling the Idaho Statesman, “Much of what I have read in Naghmeh’s Facebook posts and subsequent media reports is not true. But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media.”
“I never abused anyone in my life, and I’ve never been addicted to anything,” he also told Christianity Today. “It’s clear to me that Satan is behind this.”
On Tuesday, Naghmeh Abedini advised on social media that her husband had filed for divorce.
“It is with a heavy and broken heart that I inform all of you who have prayed and wept with our family the last few years that Saeed has rejected counseling for anger and abuse and has filed for a divorce,” she wrote. “There will be a time to share more fully, but for now, we appreciate your prayers.”
Saeed Abedini said that while he decided to divorce his wife out of his belief that the “only path toward healing is apart,” Naghmeh will always be his hero.
“She has been my wife of 12 years and she will always be the wonderful mother to our amazing children,” he wrote. “While we have experienced struggles, she, along with my children will forever be my heroes, both for what they had to deal with during my imprisonment in Iran and for how they never gave up fighting for my freedom.”
The couple has two children, ages seven and nine.