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N. Carolina lawmaker meets with Saeed in Germany

N. Carolina lawmaker meets with Saeed in Germany
N. Carolina lawmaker meets with Saeed in Germany
Posted at 3:37 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 19:09:50-05

Boise pastor Saeed Abedini is in surprisingly good shape, according to a North Carolina congressman who met privately with the Boise pastor yesterday.

Abedini was one of four men -- Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari –- who were released from Iran over the weekend as part of an agreement between the United State and Iran.

On Saturday, the former prisoners were flown from Iran to Switzerland on a Swiss plane and then brought to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, for medical treatment.

That’s where North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger met with Abdeini.

At President’s Obama’s request, Pittenger –- who had advocated for Abedini’s release for over two years -– was part of a U.S. delegation that flew to Germany to meet with the former captives.

The meeting with Abedini was arranged through the doctors treating him.

In a telephone call from Germany, Pittenger told Idaho On Your Side that Abedini “ … looks well. He’s poised. He has good senses about him.”

The two met for about ninety minutes in a hospital conference room.

As the agreement between Iran and the United States neared a conclusion, Abedini told the Congressman he was treated well by the guards at the prison where he was incarcerated.

“I think they were aware, over the last six months, that they would be releasing him, that they probably predetermined in their minds that, when this deal came through, that they were going to release the prisoners, the hostages. So he said they fed him well toward the end and (indiscernible) him up and made him look good,” Pittenger said.

Abedini, as Assistant Pastor at Boise’s Calvary Chapel church, converted from Islam to Christianity. He traveled to Iran in 2012 to establish Christian home schools in the Islamic country. It was then when he arrested, convicted, and sentenced to an eight-year prison term.

Pittenger said Abedini never denounced his Christian beliefs, despite the often torturous and harsh conditions he endured at the prison.

As for his future, Abedini realizes he has a long road of recovery ahead. “He’ll never be the same again as a person, having gone through what he went through. And so, (it) will take some time. You know, it’s natural for any hostage to put their defense mechanisms in survival mode. And so, he’s realistic though that he’s going to look to the future and take one day at a time.”

Once he’s released from the hospital, Abedini will meet he wife, Naghmeh, at a still-undisclosed location along the East Coast.

Pittenger said Abedini “is very much looking forward” to being reunited with his wife and children.

Pittenger said the one thing the two did not discuss was the “politics” surrounding the Iranian agreement.

No word yet on when Abedini may be released from the hospital.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)