The mother of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini has fled Iran following repeated threats to her life, her daughter-in-law reported last week.
Abedini's mother and two of his siblings escaped Iran on Friday, and are awaiting transport to the United States. Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said that her mother-in-law is heartbroken to leave Saeed behind, but had no choice.
"Saeed's mum has been under constant threat and intimidation by the Iranian government as she has been following up on Saeed's case (clemency, hospital....) and now she is forced to leave Iran because of it and threat of being arrested," Naghmeh wrote on Facebook. "The government (magistrate) has now said that clemency is no longer an option and they will not allow Saeed to be treated at the hospital."
Pastor Abedini, who became a Christian in 2000, maintains that he travelled to his native country in September 2012 to help build a state-run orphanage. He has reportedly been beaten by inmates and guards while incarcerated, and was temporarily transferred to a hospital after suffering internal injuries from the assaults. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013.
ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said they will continue to campaign for Abedini's release.
"We remain concerned about the health and safety of Pastor Saeed, who continues to be held in an Iranian prison because of his faith," Sekulow said. "We know that he needs medical care for injuries received during his captivity. It is an increasingly frustrating time for Pastor Saeed and his family, both in this country and in Iran."
Naghmeh said she remains hopeful and prayerful. "I know that God is in control and only Jesus (no government) will get all of the Glory for Saeed's release," she told over 38,000 Facebook supporters.
"1- Please pray for Saeed's mum and her health and her emotions as she has had to part with Saeed.
"2- Please pray for me as it is difficult being cut off from Saeed and updates about him until January when Saeed's dad will hopefully get to visit him (only immediate family are allowed to visit and with his parents gone, that leaves no one left in Iran to visit Saeed).
"3- Please pray for Saeed during this difficult time of no visitation. Please pray for his health and his miraculous release."
A petition to release Pastor Abedini has received over 300,000 signatures.