President Barack Obama met with the wife of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran, on Wednesday. Naghmeh Abedini said she met privately with the president for 10 minutes before he spoke at Boise State University about education.
“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,” Abedini said in a statement released Wednesday after the meeting. She said the president encouraged her to meeting with the administration’s new religious freedom ambassador. "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 said.
Christian pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested in 2009 and is currently serving an eight-year sentence. Iranian authorities say he undermined state security by establishing a network of house churches in the country to try to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Abedini's wife and two children reside in Boise, Idaho. Last August, Abedini's children made a YouTube video asking Obama to help free their father. Since his imprisonment, the American Center for Law and Justice has been campaigning for Abedini's return. They created a petition asking Obama to meet with Abedini's wife that received more than 100,000 signatures.
On her Facebook page on Wednesday night, Naghmeh Abedini said her father-in-law was able to visit Saeed in prison that day. His mother reportedly fled the country in November after the government threatened to arrest her.