September 26 marks one year that Saeed Abedini, a pastor and U.S. citizen from Idaho, has been imprisoned in his native Iran for his work among that country's underground church. As family, friends, and supporters continued to pray and petition for Abedini's release, his wife had a chance encounter September 23 with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, in a New York hotel lobby, and was able to pass on a letter from her husband addressed to the president.
Naghmeh Abedini, who continues to reside in Idaho with the couple's two children, had traveled to New York to appear on various TV network news shows to talk about her husband's plight and what she is doing to secure his release. According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing Saeed and his family, Naghmeh was staying in the same hotel as Iran's president, who was in town for the United Nations General Assembly. As Naghmeh and ACLJ attorney Tiffany Barrans were speaking with a news reporter from World magazine, President Rouhani and his delegation passed them on their way to the elevator.
According to World magazine, when Rouhani — who was dressed in a business suit rather than his traditional garb — walked by, Naghmeh grabbed the letter her husband had written and “walked over to the bank of elevators, where Rouhani was surrounded by Iranian and American security. He stepped onto an elevator, but some of his Iranian aides stayed behind. Abedini approached one of the Iranian aides and said in Farsi, 'I’m the wife of Saeed Abedini, who you have in Evin Prison.' She said the aide looked shocked and recognized the name. She asked him to give the president the letter, and the aide said he would.”
In his letter, Pastor Saeed recounts the injustice he has faced at the hands of Iran's Islamic legal system, and appeals to the the Iranian president to review his case. He reminds Rouhani that, according to Iran's constitution, “choosing the religion and participating in religious meetings and activities are totally legitimate in Iran, but staying in prison for me and other people like me is for sure illegal.”
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