AP: Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini released by Iran

Posted at 9:01 AM, Jan 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-16 20:53:51-05

Iranian state television announced the government has freed four dual-nationality prisoners, including Boise pastor Saeed Abedini.

The Saturday report did not identify the prisoners but it comes amid speculation that jailed Washing Post bureau chief Jason Rezaian, a dual Iran-U.S. citizen who was convicted of espionage in a closed-door trial in 2015, could be among them.

A report by the semi-official ISNA news agency quotes a statement from the Tehran prosecutor's office as saying the inmates were freed "within the framework of exchanging prisoners," without elaborating.

A person close to Iran's judiciary confirmed to The Associated Press that Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is one of them. He identified two others as former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and pastor Saeed Abedini. It was unclear who the fourth was, but indications were it may be Nosratollah Khosravi. The person in Iran spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to publicly speak to the media.

The U.S. would not immediately confirm the Iranian report. But the family of one of the U.S prisoners received unofficial word from Iran that their relative was being released today, according to a person close to that family who spoke on condition the family not be identified.


Timeline of events for Saeed Abedini's imprisonment and release:

July 2012 -- Abedini was arrested during his ninth trip to Iran.
January 2013 – Abedini went on trial which he could face the death penalty. Abedini was sentenced to 8 years in prison for having "undermined the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches and ... attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam."
November 2013 – Abedini was transferred to the Rajai Shahr prison in the town of Karaj, which is populated with heavy criminals, and has harsher, sometimes life-threatening, conditions.
December 2013 – Abedini's wife and supporters met with Congress in their plight to bring Saeed home.
September 2014 – Prayer vigils led by Abedini’s wife and children in Washington D.C. were held across the country to call attention to his plight.
December 2014 – Saeed wrote a Christmas letter home, describing the conditions he’s forced to live in and how he spending his third Christmas trapped in a cold prison cell.
January 2015 – Abedini’s wife met President Obama during a January visit to Boise.
May 2015, the United States Senate unanimously passed, 90-0, a resolution calling upon the Iranian government to immediately free Abedini and two other Americans imprisoned in Iran.
September 2015— Abedini’s wife sent letters to Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani and The United Nations Secretary-General asking for meeting.
January 2016 -- Saeed Abedini was released from prison.

Reaction from Saeed's wife Naghmeh Abedini.

Idaho's Congressional delegation reacts to Abedini release.

Reactions on social media to Pastor Abedini's release.