Pastor Saeed, the Iranian-American Christian pastor who spent more than three years in Iranian prison for holding underground religious meetings in the country, took to Facebook to show a letter he recently received from President Obama. In it, the president wrote:
As President, I made a vow that our country would do everything in its power to win your release. I want to personally convey to you how gratified I am that we were finally able to do so. As you know, I was joined by many of our fellow Americans in praying for your freedom. We all now give thanks that you are home. Many will continue to be inspired by your unyielding faith and courage in the face of great adversity.
In January, Pastor Saeed was released as part of a prisoner swap arranged with Iran. His imprisonment was condemned by religious freedom and human rights advocates around the world. Since his release, he has spoken out about conditions in prisons, and the torture religious prisoners endured.
Since his release, his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, who worked as an advocate for his release, came forward with allegations of abuse. In late January, she wrote on Facebook:
Nothing can make me happier than seeing those whom I love be happy and free from the pain that they had been under for the last 3.5 years … I do deeply regret that I hid from the public the abuse that I have lived with for most of our marriage and I ask your forgiveness … Three months ago Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer. He threatened that if I did not the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children … . I hope and pray our marriage can be healed. I believe in a God who freed Saeed from the worst prisons can hear our plea and bring spiritual freedom.
Saeed has disputed some of her allegations.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.