Christian Broadcasting Network


David Darg


  • Wife to Saeed Abedini, the pastor imprisoned in Iran
  • Two Children, Jacob (4) and Rebescca (6)
  • Members of Calvary Church
  • Husband arrested by Iranian authorities in July 2012
  • Working with ACLJ to get him free from Iranian Government
  • Lives in Boise, Idaho


Naghmeh Abedini

By Ashley Andrews, 700 Club Interactive

Saeed Abedini converted to Christianity in 2000. Two years later, he met and married his wife Naghmeh, an American citizen. Not long after, the Abedinis became prominent in the house church movement in Iran. At that time, house churches were tolerated by the Iranian government then led by the moderate reformer Mohammed Khatami. During his leadership, Abedini was able to establish nearly 100 house churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members. But religious freedom changed with the election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in 2005. The house church movement was subjected to a crackdown by Iranian authorities, and for reasons of safety, the Abedinis were forced to move back to the United States.

In 2008, Abedini became an ordained minister in the U.S. Then, two years later, he was granted American citizenship, becoming a dual Iranian-American citizen. In 2009, the Abedinis made their first trip back to Iran to visit his family. When they arrived, authorities detained him. During his interrogation, Saeed was threatened with execution due to his conversion. He was eventually released, but only after he signed a release pledging to cease all house church activities in the country.

July 2012, Saeed made his ninth trip to Iran since 2009. For this trip, he planned to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage in the city of Rasht. But while in the country, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated his passports and placed him under house arrest. He was later transferred to Evin Prison, where he has been incarcerated since September of 2012.

In mid-January 2013, it was reported that Saeed would go on trial January 21, and that he could potentially face the death penalty. He was charged with compromising national security, though the specific allegations were not made public. His supporters said his arrest was due to his conversion and efforts to spread Christianity in Iran. On January 21, 2013, Iranian state media reported that Saeed would be released after posting an $116,000 bond. His wife, however, stated that the government "has no intention of freeing him and that the announcement is 'a game to silence' international media reports."
Five days later, Judge Pir-Abassi sentenced Saeed to eight years in prison. As Fox News reported, he was sentenced for having "undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and...attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam." The evidence against him, however, was based primarily on his activities in the early 2000s. He has been set to serve his time in Evin Prison. The U.S. State Department condemned the sentence: "We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion, and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini's human rights and release him."

On March 15, Naghmeh Abedini told members of Congress she was disheartened the Obama administration was not helping her husband. As she shared, "I must say I am disappointed with our government. I am disappointed that our president and our State Department have not fully engaged in this case...I expect more from our government...We should know as American citizens that our government will stand up to protect our beliefs, our fundamental human rights." She also mentioned her two children, and how the separation from their father has been difficult for the children. Before his imprisonment, Saeed was able to speak to them through Skype. That ended when he entered prison in September. "The children," she said, "have asked me why their father would no longer speak to them...I had to tell them that he was in prison because he loves Jesus and that he loved them very much and he was looking for the day to come back and tuck them into bed."

Her husband, Saeed Abedini, has reported that Iranian authorities at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran are torturing him and pressuring him to deny Christ. Naghmeh joined others in testifying before members of the House of Representative's Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission about the eroding conditions for religious minorities in Iran, which is ruled by an extremist Islamic regime. Though invited, no representative of the State Department appeared at the hearing.
Others at the hearing criticized the Obama administration more strongly than Naghmeh. "The problem is that the State Department is AWOL," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and representative for the Abedini family. "They act as if they are embarrassed about Mr. Abedini's faith...What our State Department is doing is abysmal," and their inaction, he said, shows a "stunning lack of concern for protecting human rights and religious freedom." Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., a commission member, echoed Sekulow's argument saying that the State Department "should be utterly ashamed for their failure to speak out" in behalf of Abedini and his family. He described the department's response as a "deafening and almost cowardly silence."

More than eighty congressional members from both political parties wrote Kerry in mid-February to ask him to take action. And following the hearing, six congressmen sent a letter to Kerry, condemning the State Department's absence. The letter urged Kerry to personally assure Naghmeh Abedini that he will act on her husband's behalf. "They...sent a dangerous message to rogue regimes...that human rights abuses that compromise the safety and security of American citizens will be met with virtual silence from the U.S. government."

Later that day, Kerry made a statement saying, "I am ... troubled by the lack of due process in Mr. Abedini's case. The best outcome ... is that he be immediately released." Naghmeh Abedini expressed gratitude for Kerry's statement: "I am hopeful that this will put more pressure on the Iranian government to act and free Saeed so he can return to our family in the United States."