BREAKING: Saeed Abedini reunited with wife and children in Idaho

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

(Samaritan's Press)Pastor Saeed Abedini embraces his mother, father and sister after returning to the United States. Tuesday afternoon he flew in to Boise, Idaho to be reunited with his wife and two children.

BOISE, Idaho (Christian Examiner) – Saeed Abedini, the 35-year-old pastor who was imprisoned for three-and-a half years in Iran, returned home to Boise, his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, told local news outlets Tuesday afternoon.

"Saeed is here in Boise," Naghmeh said, according to KTVB Channel 7. "He had a great reunion with the kids ... We are taking personal time to work on very serious personal issues."

Naghmeh had told reporters last week plans were for her and the children to fly to the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C., to reunite with Abedini, but apparently plans changed.

"He landed. Saw the kids," Naghmeh reportedly texted the Statesman, a local paper, Tuesday evening. "We are asking for privacy to work through personal stuff."

News Station KBOI-TV, Channel 2, reported Abedini arrived in Boise on a private plane at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday after spending five days with his parents and sisters at Billy Graham's Cove in North Carolina.

Abedini was one of five prisoners released as part of a prisoner swap with Iran earlier this month. He was released Jan. 16, along with Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, and language student Matt Trevithick, 30.

Mark DeMoss, a spokesperson for Franklin Graham, said the well-known Christian leader and head of Samaritan's Purse, begin to advocate for Saeed after Naghmeh appealed to him in 2013.

"Franklin has just tried to be a good friend and offer support, draw attention to the case, encourage people to pray for Saeed while he was in prison and praying for his family," DeMoss said. "He's offered to stay connected and be helpful in any way that he could. It's become a good friendship."

While he was at the Cove, Saeed talked to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren about his confinement in Iran. He said he was denied some basic necessities like clothing and medical care, even after being brutally beaten by other prisoners and tortured.