Naghmeh Abedini tells NPR she’s ‘very hopeful’ husband Saeed home soon

Naghmeh Abedeni, the wife of jailed Boise pastor Saeed Abedini appeared in a seven-minute interview Sunday morning, saying, “I don’t give my kids a timeline, but I’m very hopeful that we would see him home soon.”

She cited as signs of hope President Obama’s recent telephone inquiry about her husband to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and her own success in hand-delivering a letter from her husband to a representative of Iranian president on a visit to New York.

Naghmeh Abedini spoke with National Public Radio’s Rachel Martin on Weekend Edition Sunday. Martin grew up in Idaho Falls. Abedini said her husband’s beginning a second year in Evin prison has been doubly difficult because it could bring a second year of missed birthdays, Christmas and other milestones.

“The kids are growing up without him,” Abedini said.

She said she hasn’t told the children about the eight-year sentence imposed on the convert from Islam to Christianity, after he was detained while working to establish orphanages in his native country. Neither does she mention beatings he’s endured in prison.

Abedini said her husband “was told he would be released if he would deny his Christian faith and return to Islam.”

Asked about whether the couple weighed the risks of him returning to Iran, she said they were concerned about violence from radicals, but not from the Iranian government. “It was a risk we decided to take for the orphans,” she said.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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