Naghmeh Abedini on husband's release: 'It was an amazing moment'
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Naghmeh Abedini was notified early Saturday morning that her husband, pastor Saeed Abedini, was being released from an Iranian prison after more than three years in captivity.
The Boise mother of two says it's a day she has thought of many times, never knowing when that time would actually come. She has spent the last few years tirelessly pushing for her husband's release.
"The last three years I had tried so hard, but it seemed like every piece of good news came with disappointment," she told KBOI 2News in an interview Saturday.
Saeed Abedini was arrested in September 2012 on charges related to his Christian faith.
"I remember the mess and the weight of 'now what?'" Naghmeh said. " How do I fight for my husband, how do I take care of the kids? They would ask me, you know, 'When is daddy coming home?' and I would say, 'I don't know.'"
Naghmeh said she hasn't heard her husband's voice since October. Even then, their conversation only lasted a few minutes. Now, following his release, she hopes to talk with him late Saturday. As of Saturday afternoon, he was still on Iranian soil.
Early Saturday, Naghmeh said she got a phone call from the State Department, confirming that her prayers had been answered. Saeed had been released, and would be coming home to his family.
"My first thought was the kids," she said. "I woke them up, it was exciting. It was just such an amazing moment of running to them...I just ran and said 'Daddy's coming home, he's free!' They jumped up, they were jumping, dancing. I wish I could have recorded it it, but I didn't."
According to the family, Saeed will be taken to a medical center in Germany before returning back to the US. Naghmeh is unsure whether she will fly to meet Saeed in Germany, or wait for him here in Boise. Either way, she says it could be a matter of days before she gets to hold her husband in her arms, and let him hold his kids.
"One of the first things he said he wanted to do was see his kids," she said.
Naghmeh says she is still cautious about her optimism, until she hears Saeed is out of Iran. She also tells KBOI 2News the next several months will continue to test her family. Naghmeh had previously stepped out of the public eye, after a series of emails were released that addressed troubles in the couple's married life.
"The truth is, I'm proud of Saeed for having stood up for his faith all these years," Naghmeh siad. "But there are serious dark issues in our family that need to be resolved and that's the next stage of the journey. The hardest part over the last three years was fighting so hard for him but still being verbally abused."
She says their family will have to readjust, knowing they will not be able to live a private lifestyle even once Saeed returns home.
"I don't think we can go back to that life, " she said. "I think that our life has been changed forever and I think that's another thing we have to process as a family."
Naghmeh tells KBOI 2News she wishes Saeed's release didn't have to come at the price that it did, in exchange for seven Iranian prisoners, but she says she is thankful for the work of the US Government and Idaho delegates who helped bring Saeed home.
"Even though we're not super happy that innocent people were released from Iran and criminals were released from here... I trust that our government has tried very hard," she said. "They've done a wonderful job. I'm not a politician and I'm not our President, so they get to decide what's best, and I trust that."
Naghmeh also expressed her gratitude for those in the community who have helped her through the last three years, saying she wouldn't have made it through the first few months without them.