BREAKING: Saeed Abedini released from Iranian prison in swap

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

IRAN (Christian Examiner) -- Saeed Abedini, a pastor, and three other Americans have been released from prison in Iran according to various news sources, Jay Sekulow, the attorney representing the Abedini family has confirmed.

In social media updates beginning just before 10 a.m. CST, the news exploded with promises by Sekulow for more information as it is known.

Just 12 hours before the reports, Sekulow had tweeted that Abedini had been taken by intelligence police from the jail where he was being held to the Central Intelligence Office.

Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed's wife, tweeted: "URGENT UPDATE on Saeed: Our family appreciates your continued prayers for Saeed and our family!"

Later Naghmeh tweeted: "It is confirmed: Saeed is released from Iranian prison."

Saeed, though Iranian-born, is a U.S. citizen and pastor from Boise, Idaho. He traveled to Iran in 2012 with plans to build an orphanage there. While in the country, he was detained by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard because of his profession of Christianity. Abedini was placed under house arrest, but later sent to Evin Prison, one of the nation's most notorious.

Supporters' attempts to push for Abedini's release had been complicated by the United States' precarious relationship with Iran.

CNN reported the four prisoners are part of a prisoner swap and include Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, an Marine Corps veteran, and Nosratollah Khosrawi.

The United States is said to have freed six Iranian Americans on charges related to sanctions against Iran.