Date: January 23, 2015
USA (ACLJ) — U.S. President Obama met with American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, and two young children, Jacob and Rebekka, in a private meeting Wednesday in Pastor Saeed’s hometown of Boise, Idaho
The meeting lasted about 10 minutes, and President Obama assured Naghmeh that Pastor Saeed’s freedom is a “top priority” for him and his administration.
This was the first time that President Obama met or spoke with Pastor Saeed’s family, and Naghmeh left the meeting with a “renewed sense of hope.”
As Naghmeh described their meeting:
President Obama came in and shook our hands and talked to the kids for a moment. Then he sat right in front of me and started speaking of how much of a priority Saeed’s case was and that he was working on getting Saeed home to our family. He mentioned his first call several months ago to Iran’s president Rouhani and how Saeed was mentioned in that call.
He again reiterated that Saeed’s case was a “top priority” and getting him back to the U.S., to our family, was a top priority. He also said that he meets with Secretary of State Kerry regularly and follows up on Saeed’s case. He also said that Secretary Kerry brings up Saeed every time he meets with the Iranians.
I told him how appreciative I was that he was willing to meet with my family and for everything he was doing to bring my husband home. I told him that I was praying for him and had been praying for months I would have the opportunity to meet with him. He took my hand, squeezed it, and smiled. I could tell by the look in his eyes he cared.
As the meeting ended, I said, “My son, Jacob, has something to say. Jacob said, “Mr. President, can you please bring daddy home for my birthday?” President Obama asked, “When is your birthday?” Jacob said March 17th, and the President said he would try very hard. He smiled, got up, hugged me again, and said goodbye. He shook the kids hands and left.
Meeting with the President of the United States of America and seeing how much he cares about Saeed’s case has given me a renewed sense of hope. I want to thank everyone who has been praying for this meeting to take place and for my husband’s freedom.
ACLJ is grateful that President Obama took the time to meet with Naghmeh and speak with her and the children.
Pastor Saeed has been wrongly imprisoned for nearly two and a half years. He has been separated from his wife and children; the pain experienced by the Abedini family is impossible to imagine.
The meeting between President Obama and the Abedini family is a very welcomed development. It demonstrates the President’s concern and compassion for this family. It also underscores the importance of Pastor Saeed’s case, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran merely because of his Christian faith.
The face-to-face meeting elevates Pastor Saeed’s plight on the world stage and should send a powerful message to the Iranians: it is time to release Pastor Saeed so he can return home to his family.
Also today, Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran was able to visit with Pastor Saeed and give him updates about how Naghmeh and his children are doing.
Like Naghmeh, they are hopeful that President Obama’s direct involvement in this case will lead to Pastor Saeed’s freedom. Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed, his family, and his swift release.