Wife of pastor who was imprisoned in Iran seeks separation

AP News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2016 5:41 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The wife of an American pastor who was imprisoned for nearly four years in Iran filed court documents to legally separate from him the same day he returned home to Idaho, court records show.

Saeed Abedini was one of four Americans released in Iran under a negotiated prisoner exchange on Jan. 16. The U.S. agreed to free seven Iranians as part of the agreement.

Abedini returned to Boise on Tuesday. Court documents indicate his wife, Naghmeh Panahi, filed the petition for separation the same day.

Further details on the filing have been sealed and were unavailable.

Panahi was a tireless advocate for her husband's release until November, when she told supporters that he had been an abusive husband and that she planned to step out of the public eye for prayer, fasting and more time with her children.

Abedini does not have a publicly listed phone number and attempts to contact him through his church were not immediately successful.

On Wednesday, Panahi released a statement through her Facebook account saying that she experienced abuse throughout most of her marriage. She confirmed the posting to The Associated Press.

"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," Panahi wrote. "Tragically, the opposite has occurred."

Panahi said she hopes counseling will help resolve the marital problems.

Abedini was detained in Iran for compromising national security, presumably because of Christian proselytizing. He was sentenced in 2013 to eight years in prison.