The family of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor jailed in an Iranian prison, has expressed alarm over the state of his physical and emotional condition after he witnessed brutal events in prison.
"Saeed was quite shaken as he had to witness 6 fellow prisoners being beaten and taken to be executed (hanged) that day. It was a hard and dark day having witnessed that and seeing life being taken. The prison visit was also very hard as the families of those who were executed were crying and wailing," his wife Naghmeh recounted her last visit with her husband, who has been in jail for nearly two and a half years.
Naghmeh has been appealing for government support in the case of her husband, as his physical and emotional condition deteriorates with the abuse he continues to witness in the Iranian prison. Naghmeh said that her husband is also suffering from internal injuries due to prison beatings.
Recently, Naghmeh, together with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) met with US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom David Sapertsein, to discuss Iran's refusal to allow Pastor Saeed to have medical treatment. They also reiterated the family's appeal to bring him home as soon as possible.
While the situation remains bleak, the ACLJ has continued to bring the matter to the attention of the American public by launching a petition entitled "Do Not Leave Saeed Behind" which has already been signed by 250,254 individuals.
"Thank you all for praying. Please continue to pray for Saeed to have the strength to endure in that harsh prison and that Jesus would continue to meet him there and give him hope. Please pray that this will be the year that Saeed is released," Naghmeh said.
US President Barack Obama has also vowed swift action on the case of Pastor Saeed, who has been detained in Iran since 2012 for charges of "undermining national security" by working with Christian house churches, meeting with Christians inside private homes, and "attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam."
After a questionable judicial process where his attorney was only allowed to one day of his trial, he was sentenced to eight years in prison and was transferred to Rajai Shahr in 2013, where he is being held along with hardened criminals convicted for murder and rape.
According to Naghmeh, the President had a 10-minute closed door meeting with her and her children at Boise State University where Obama assured her that the return of her husband would be a top priority for the US Administration and that everything in his power would be done to bring the pastor home.
"I feel like there was a heart connection. As much as I needed to see him to make it more personal, I think it had the effect where he saw us and we weren't just a news story. We are a family torn apart. I could see compassion in his eyes," she said.