Boise & Garden City

Boise pastor released from Iran to head to North Carolina retreat center Thursday

Abedini released in Iran, Boise church members celebrate

People at Boise's Calvary Chapel talk Saturday about hearing that Pastor Saeed Abedini had been released from an Iranian prison as part of a prisoner swap.
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People at Boise's Calvary Chapel talk Saturday about hearing that Pastor Saeed Abedini had been released from an Iranian prison as part of a prisoner swap.

Saeed Abedini, who spent more than three years in an Iranian prison, will arrive back in this country Thursday evening, his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, said Wednesday.

But he’s still not likely to return to Boise for some time. Naghmeh told the Statesman earlier this week that the family plans to meet Saeed at on the East Coast.

“He will be at a retreat center with his parents for a few days and then the kids and I will join him on Monday and will be taking weeks or months healing as a family and going through counseling,” Naghmeh said via text Wednesday morning.

The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday that Saeed Abedini is scheduled to arrive Thursday at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, a 12,000 acre mountain retreat in Asheville, N.C. A spokesman for evangelist Franklin Graham confirmed the location to the Observer.

“The plan is for him to be able to rest and to have various family members visit him in a private setting,” spokesman Mark DeMoss said.

DeMoss said Abedini will not be speaking to the news media right away – “at least (not) until he has been with his family.”

Saeed Abedini’s release was secured as part of a prisoner swap, announced Saturday, that also involved four other Americans. He’s currently in Germany, where he is being medically evaluated.

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., who took up the Abedinis’ cause and spent years working for Saeed’s freedom, flew to Germany with a U.S. delegation. He reported Tuesday that after a long, grueling ordeal, Saeed was doing quite well, despite reports during his captivity of abuse and illness.

Back home, Naghmeh in November stunned her husband’s many supporters by publicly accusing her husband of abuse. In statements to the Statesman at the time, she said she regretted sending emails describing the allegations.

“I am believing in a miracle for our marriage,” she posted Wednesday on her Facebook page, also thanking supporters such as Pittenger and the Rev. Franklin Graham. “WE need your prayers more than ever. The enemy wants to bring division and destruction. Please pray that we can heal and move forward united as a family.”

Matthew Schofield of McClatchy’s DC Bureau contributed.

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