Spouse Naghmeh Abedini (m. 2004)
|Name Saeed Abedini|
Known for Imprisonment in Iran
|Born May 7, 1980 (age 35) (1980-05-07) Iran|
Religion Protestant Christian (convert from Shia Islam)
Children Rebekka Abedini, Jacob Abedini
Similar People Amir Mirza Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, Robert Levinson, Jay Sekulow, Youcef Nadarkhani
2014 pray for pastor saeed abedini given glimmer of hope for clemency
Saeed Abedini (Persian: سعيد عابدينی, born 7 May 1980) is an Iranian American Christian pastor who was imprisoned in Iran for threatening “national security” by making Christian gatherings. On January 16, 2016, he was released from prison with 2 other American prisoners. Abedini, a naturalized American citizen, reportedly has dual-citizenship, with the US and Iran. Iran, however, does not recognize his American citizenship.
- 2014 pray for pastor saeed abedini given glimmer of hope for clemency
- Saeed abedini s story depressed muslim to christian humanitarian
- 2012 arrest
- Calls for release
Saeed abedini s story depressed muslim to christian humanitarian
Abedini is an American and a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000. While Christianity is recognized as a minority religion under the Iranian constitution, Muslim converts to Christianity suffer discrimination at the hands of Iranian authorities. In particular, such converts are disallowed from worshipping with other Christians in established Christian churches, which has led to the establishment of so-called "house" or "underground" churches where these converts can worship together.
In 2002, Abedini met and married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen. In the early 2000s, the Abedinis became prominent in the house-church movement in Iran, at a time when the movement was tolerated by the Iranian government. During this period, Abedini is credited with establishing about 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members. With the election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in 2005, however, the house-church movement was subjected to a crackdown by Iranian authorities and the Abedinis moved back to the United States.
Abedini's first trip back to Iran was in 2009 to visit his family, when government authorities detained him. According to Abedini, he was threatened with death during his interrogation over his conversion to Christianity. Ultimately he was released after signing a pledge to cease all house-church activities in the country. As part of this same agreement, Abedini was permitted to return to Iran freely to work on non-sectarian humanitarian efforts.
In 2008, Abedini became an ordained minister in the U.S. and in 2010, he was granted American citizenship, thus becoming a dual Iranian-American citizen. Abedini had been living the past several years with his family in Boise, Idaho, where his wife grew up. The couple has two young children and they are members at the Calvary Chapel church in Boise.
On January 27, 2016 Reuters reported that Naghmeh Abedini filed for legal separation. On October 6, 2016 Saeed posted the following on his Facebook page: “My heart is deeply saddened to be sharing the news that Naghmeh and I will be divorcing...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.”
In July 2012, Abedini made his ninth trip to Iran since 2009 to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage in the city of Rasht. While in the country, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest. He was transferred to Evin Prison in late September.
In mid-January 2013, it was reported that Abedini would go on trial on January 21, and could face the death penalty. He was charged with compromising national security, though the specific allegations were not made public. His supporters said his arrest was due to his conversion and attending peaceful Christianity gatherings in Iran. On January 21, 2013, Iranian state media reported that Abedini would be released after posting a $116,000 bond. His wife, however, stated that the government "has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is 'a game to silence' international media reports."
In November 2015, Naghmeh Abedini began to back away from the high-profile speaking of her husband’s campaign, telling supporters by e-mail that he has been abusive to her and she can “no longer live a lie.” Christianity Today published two e-mails Naghmeh Abedini sent to supporters about her troubled marriage, which began in 2004.
She confirmed that she had experienced “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse through her husband’s addiction to pornography.” She wrote at the time, “The abuse started early in their marriage and has worsened during Saeed’s imprisonment,” which she confirmed on Saturday. The two had been speaking by phone and through Skype, but she said she has not spoken with him since October.
On January 27, 2013, Judge Pir-Abassi sentenced Abedini to eight years in prison. According to Fox News, Abedini was sentenced for having "undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and ... attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam." The evidence against Abedini was based primarily on his activities in the early 2000s. Abedini was meant to serve his time in Evin Prison. The U.S. State Department condemned the sentence: "We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him."
Early November 2013, Abedini was transferred from Tehran to the Rajai Shahr prison in the town of Karaj, which is populated with heavy criminals, and has harsher, sometimes life-threatening, conditions.
Calls for release
Amnesty International has repeatedly raised the issue of Abedini's imprisonment, calling him a prisoner of conscience and calling upon Iran to release all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
In May 2015, the United States Senate unanimously passed, 90-0, a resolution calling upon the Iranian government to immediately free Abedini and two other Americans imprisoned in Iran, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian, and to cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return Robert Levinson, who is missing in the country. The resolution was introduced by Senator James Risch of Idaho, Abedini's home state.
In March 2015, in a message commemorating the Nowruz (the Persian new year), President Barack Obama listed Abedini, Rezaian, and Hekmati, by name and called for their release. Obama said, "[Abedini] has spent two and a half years detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs. He must be returned to his wife and two young children, who needlessly continue to grow up without their father." Obama also met with Naghmeh Abedini during a January 2015 visit to Boise.
In July 2015, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Obama again listed Abedini, Rezaian, and Hekmati by name calling for their release (and for cooperation to find Levinson) and saying, "We are not going to relent until we bring home our Americans who are unjustly detained in Iran." Secretary of State John Kerry said the same month that there was "not one meeting that took place" during the nuclear talks from 2013 to 2015 (which led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) at which the United States didn't raise the issue of the four Americans.'
On January 16, 2016, Saeed Abedini was released from prison. Iran said they were being swapped for seven Iranians held in US prisons but there was no immediate US confirmation. "In addition, Iranian state TV said 14 Iranians sought by the US would be removed from an Interpol wanted list." Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosrawi were also released by Iran.
In 2015 during his imprisonment, Abedini was accused by his wife of years of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. She also stated that Saeed was addicted to pornography. He had previously received a suspended 3-month prison sentence for domestic assault in 2007.