During a recent visit to Boise, Idaho, President Obama met with the family of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran for his Christian faith. President Obama told Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Saeed Abedini, that bringing Abedini home to the U.S. is a “top priority.”
“I am extremely thankful the President took the time to meet with our family and told us that securing the release of my husband is a top priority,” said Mrs. Abedini.
“The President was focused and gracious—showing concern to me and my children. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release. The President repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope,” she continued.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), when Abedini’s six-year-old son, Jacob, asked the President, “Mr. President, can you please bring daddy home for my birthday?” the President said that he will “try very hard to make that happen.” Jacob’s seventh birthday is on March 17.
The brief, 10-minute meeting was arranged after Mrs. Abedini wrote a letter to President Obama upon hearing that he would visit Boise, where the Abedini family resides.
"My heart leapt with hope when I heard that you would be visiting my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Since the Iranian government took my husband, Saeed Abedini, almost three years ago, I have been praying and wanting to meet with you,” she wrote.
ACLJ also arranged a petition, which was signed by over 107,000 people, encouraging the President to meet with the family and show his support and resolve to bring Abedini home.
Despite the publicity that Abedini’s situation has been receiving, and the fact that the President had personally spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to urging for Abedini’s release, Abedini remains in prison receiving brutal punishment, including beatings and pressures to recant to Islam. Abedini was arrested in September 2012 while working for an orphanage in Iran, and since then, his wife and supporters have been campaigning for his release by reaching media outlets and holding prayer vigils.