American Pastor Formerly Imprisoned in Iran Announces Divorce From Wife

Saeed and Negmeh Abedini

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.”

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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.

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  • Clae Brewer

    This doesn’t sound right, but God knows.

  • Bertha Warren

    He is not angry with his wife, he is angry with God. That is part of be human, but Jesus said count the cost of following him. I know he is not Paul, must be honest with his feeling. So healing process can take place. Take Spiritual counseling, any away he was prison of war. Like Paul said, I am in jail because preaching Gospel of Christ Jesus. Everything we have, that link up to Jesus will be tried and tested. I pray for restoring, for him and his wife. Those two can be Powder House, for Kingdom of God. Hope and pray they can through Holy Spirit can start anew through Christ Jesus. Following Jesus is not a joke, we as believers
    will be tested my Satan, and sometime God will allow.

    • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      Respectfully, you do not know the ins and outs of this case. Saeed is not guilty of the things Naghmeh is accusing him of. He is being very kind in how he is handling this.

      • Bertha Warren

        By no means, I am accusing him,of things his wife,said happen. I speaking about his relationship with God, not his wife. What he been through, there is anger. He is angry with God. When he recognize this and confess to about his anger, healing process will start. When you do work for Lord and we say we love, our faith will be tested. To understand what I am saying, you have relationship Jesus. No disrespect to you nor him. Thank you.

        • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          The Lord sees his heart.

          • Freedom Campus

            The fact that he is not willing to have outside counsel is troubling and a serious sign that he is in the wrong. Yes, God sees our hearts but Paul and Christ both told us that our actions reveal our heart. It goes against scripture to disconnect behavior from the heart. We are known by our actions and his pride is very evident.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You’re assuming that Naghmeh’s claims are true. They are not.

  • Paul Emery

    How heart breaking. It appears that there is definitely need for healing. However, the institution of marriage is sacred, and he is not offering a Biblical case for divorce. I pray he steps down as a pastor, and that the LORD will work in his life and his heart, even towards restoration with that which God blessed him with, his wife and children and if the LORD allows a return to ministry.

    • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      Just because he is being discreet does not mean he doesn’t have Biblical reason for divorce.

  • Fred Abod

    This so called Pastor is divorcing from his wife because of his addiction to pornographic movies and his family abuse. Her wife , for the same reason , dicided to divorce long before he return to US.

    • Reason2012

      Before you go judging others and defaming them publicly, how is it you KNOW this is the truth?

    • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      That is completely untrue. It is impossible to livestream porn into Iranian jail from a US Amazon account. In other words, Naghmeh lied. People are getting tired of the lies and are going to start naming names.

  • Seymore Philmore

    With God, ALL things are possible. They seem to have lowered their focus from God to the world. Most of us are guilty of this sometimes. God is famous for restorations and even resurrections. Pray for them.

    • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      We should pray, yes, but remember that John Wesley faced a similar situation with his wife.

  • ComeOnPeople!

    We can’t have a national news case about a Muslim gone Christian remain after he is released. We must destroy the man to prove that Christianity is evil and Islam is good. Read back over the statements and you can see right threw what is going on. SMERE campaign . Wonder how much they offered her?

  • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    There is so much more to this story than what is being reported. People are getting tired of the games being played. It was kind of Saeed to quietly put her away but some people are starting to name names. One thing I will say bluntly: Naghmeh needs to account for the great deal of money that was raised for Saeed while he was in prison.

  • Michael Ferguson

    There is no reason whatsoever for a man to divorce his wife- none. Separation in the hope of restitution, yes, that makes sense. But for any man who is supposed to set an example for his wife and even other women has no excuse for doing away with his wife. This is a cowardly act, proves the man’s little trust in God and once again sets a pathetic example for this world’s people to witness and mock. Sad.

    • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      You do know the Bible gives reason for divorce, don’t you?

      • Michael Ferguson

        No. The Bible does not grant a legitimate reason for an honorable divorce- the Bible (or for that matter God Himself has granted an allowance for a divorce) such as infidelity…..but that is never what God desires any individual to do. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16)…..that is also scripturally valid and has only allowed individuals under specific circumstances to get a divorce…..note the actual circumstances- not just infidelity on the part of one partner but also…..the hardness of mens hearts. That latter is certainly not a positive reason for a divorce but in contrast an outright criticism and condemnation for such an act.

        Maybe if Christians would read both Matthew 19:9 and the verse that precedes this we might approach this issue as God does and not how we as hard hearted selfish people so often do.

        Thank you for your question.

        • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          While God hates divorce, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a necessity at time. Infidelity, especially when the erring spouse is unrepentant or wants the divorce, is just cause for divorce. Divorce didn’t cause the chasm. The breaking of the marriage covenant did.

  • Freedom Campus

    The unwillingness to have others in our lives is how satan works to wreck our lives. I only hope and pray that he wakes to the deception of the enemy in his life. His decision to cut himself from his wife but especially the counsel of others shows a heart of pride unwilling to be accountable. Actions reveal the condition of the heart.

  • dean29685

    One observation I must make while divorce may be wrong (and I believe it is) in today’s secular society the sate controls divorce not the church. With no fault everything we have no choice but comply when the decree is issued.

  • Chet

    One wonders just how much opportunity was given the Lord to heal this family? No mention of adultery, surely, healing was/is yet possible…