Naghmeh Abedini has taken legal action against her husband Saeed Abedini to make sure their children remain in Idaho while the couple works to save their marriage, and revealed on Facebook Jan. 27 scant details of alleged spousal abuse she called “a growing cancer.”
Naghmeh Panahi (her maiden name) vs. Saeed Abedini was filed Jan. 26 in Ada County, Idaho, before Jill S. Jurries, magistrate judge for family law in the Fourth Judicial District of Idaho in Ada County. Described as a domestic relations case, it is identified on the Idaho State Judiciary website as case CV-DR-2016-01483, and is pending.
“I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved,” she wrote on Facebook. “In very difficult situations sometimes you have to establish boundaries while you work toward healing.”
She filed the case against the 35-year-old pastor as he returned to Boise Jan. 27 from the Billy Graham Conference Center at the Cove in Asheville, N.C., his first stop in the U.S. on Jan. 21 from Iran, where he had been unjustly imprisoned three-and-a-half years because of his Christian faith.
In Boise, the pastor spent time with his two children, Naghmeh Abedini said on Facebook, but she gave no indication of whether he was living with the family in their Boise home.
In a Jan. 25 Fox News broadcast of Saeed Abedini’s first public comments since his release from prison, he discussed his time in prison, but made no mention of his marriage. Baptist Press was not able to reach him for comments about the court case.
In the Facebook post, Naghmeh Abedini expressed regret for having shielded from the public what she has described as abuse suffered from her husband, whom she has said was addicted to pornography.
“I do deeply regret that I hid from the public the abuse that I have lived with for most of our marriage and I ask your forgiveness,” she wrote. “I sincerely had hoped that this horrible situation Saeed has had to go through would bring about the spiritual change needed in both of us to bring healing to our marriage. Tragically, the opposite has occurred.”
But details of the alleged abuse remain scant.
“Three months ago Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer,” she wrote. “He threatened that if I did not the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children.”
The statements stand in contrast to Naghmeh Abedini’s previously expressed regret for having written of the abuse and pornography addiction in November 2015 emails to close friends. As recently as a Jan. 22 interview with Baptist Press, she chose not to reveal details of the abuse.
“I think when it’s time,” she said Jan. 22, “I think it’s a story that needs to be told by Saeed, not me. I think it had better not be anything that I focus on anymore.”
Abedini’s release with three other Americans was announced Jan. 16 in a prisoner swap the Obama Administration negotiated during nuclear disarmament talks. Naghmeh Abedini had advocated widely for her husband’s release, and continues to express her love for him, despite the legal action.
“I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer,” she said. “We cannot go on the way it has been. I hope and pray our marriage can be healed. I believe in a God who freed Saeed from the worst prisons can hear our plea and bring spiritual freedom.”
Naghmeh Abedini expressed joy that her husband has “had a wonderful reunion with the children,” Rebekkah and Jacob.
“I am so happy for this long waited reunion and for the joy that I see in my children and in Saeed,” she wrote. “Nothing can make me happier than seeing those whom I love be happy and free from the pain that they had been under for the last 3.5 years.”
She is still committed to saving her marriage, she said on Facebook.
“I long more than anyone for reconciliation for our family and to be united as a family. Since Saeed’s freedom I have wanted nothing more than to run to him and welcome him home. It is something I dreamed about the last 3.5 years,” she wrote. “But unfortunately things did not work out that way and our family has to work through reconciliation.
“I want our reconciliation to be strictly based on God’s Word. I want us to go through counseling, which must first deal with the abuse,” she said. “Then we can deal with the changes my husband and I must both make moving forward in the process of healing our marriage.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)