Saeed Abedini, an American pastor arrested in Iran over three years ago for his Christian faith, has been released from prison, along with three other Americans.
The others released are Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, who decided not to leave Iran, according to U.S. officials.
The release was part of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran.
“We have just received word that Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith, has been released along with the other three Americans who were held there,” Franklin Graham shared on Facebook Saturday morning. “I praise God for answered prayer and thank all of you who have prayed faithfully for his release!”
Saeed’s story has gained international attention as his wife Naghmeh has worked tirelessly to get her husband back to the U.S.
The 35-year-old Iranian-born pastor from Idaho was detained in Iran in July 2012 during a trip to visit family and to finalize the board members for an Iranian orphanage he was working on. After intense interrogations and a raid on his parents’ home, he was put in solitary confinement and later sentenced to eight years in prison for what the Iranian government called “crimes against the national security of Iran.”
Saeed’s attorneys said the charge stemmed from his prior involvement with Christian house churches.
Since that time, he’s been beaten, threatened, suffered internal injuries, denied medical treatment and has been separated from his wife and two children.
Saeed had been imprisoned in Iran until his release today.
“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners” (Psalm 146:5-7).