Pastor Saeed Abedini Sentenced After Violating Restraining Order Taken Out By His Wife
The US-based pastor Saeed Abedini, who was released from an Iranian prison last year, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to violating a restraining order taken out by his estranged wife, Naghmeh.
Abedini, who was arrested in Iran in 2012 and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for preaching the gospel, was released along with three other Americans last January in exchange for seven Iranians.
Now the minister based in Boise, Idaho will have to work four days of community service or labour on a sheriff's office work crew.
Abedini, 36, pleaded guilty in Ada County Magistrate Court on Monday to the violation and Magistrate Daniel Steckel sentenced him to 180 days in jail but suspended all but five days, the Idaho Statesman reported.
The pastor was given credit for the one day he spent in the Ada County Jail after he was arrested on August 31. He was also fined $1,000, with $500 suspended, and placed for two years on unsupervised probation.
Also ordered to remain at least 300 yards away from Naghmeh Abedini's home in West Boise, he may text or email her for matters concerning their children but may not otherwise have contact with her.
The judge further ordered that a third person arrange to bring the children from one parent to the other.
Contacted by the Idaho Statesman on the telephone yesterday, Abedini declined to comment. 'This was a personal matter that I won't share in public,' he said. 'I will write something in my book in the future.'
No details of what occured during the incident, which took place last May 26, were provided in court documents.
Two other counts, which alleged further violations of the restraining order on June 1 and 2 last year, were dismissed in exchange for Abedini's guilty plea.
Abedini is a former Muslim who grew up in Iran and converted to Christianity in 2000, moved to Idaho with Naghmeh in 2005 and became a dual US-Iranian citizen in 2010.
While in Iran, he organised underground 'house churches' where groups of Christians worshipped together.
In 2009, while on a family visit to Iran, Abedini was detained at the airport and he agreed to cease all house church activities.
He travelled back and forth to Iran to build an orphanage over the next few years.
But he was again detained in July 2012 on charges of evangelising and sentenced to eight years in prison. Abedini, who said he was imprisoned for 'being a Christian and refusing to renounce my faith in Jesus Christ', suffered internal injuries from beatings he endured and was denied medical care during his imprisonment in Iran.
Naghmeh Abedini brought national attention to her husband's plight by advocating for his release, and the then-President Barack Obama met with her during a trip to Boise in 2015 and pledged his support.
The evangelical leader Franklin Graham also campaigned for his release.
Naghmeh filed for legal separation from her husband on the day that he arrived back in Boise, five days after he was released from the Rajai Shahr prison in a January 2016 prisoner exchange. She also obtained a temporary restraining order to ensure the couple's two young children remained in Idaho. A divorce is currently pending.
In 2007, Abedini pleaded guilty to domestic abuse in Ada County Magistrate Court before receiving a 90-day suspended sentence and being placed on probation for a year.