BOISE -- The family of the Boise pastor imprisoned in Iran for more than a year says his situation is only getting worse.
Saeed Abedini was transferred to a different prison earlier this month. On Monday, Abedini was allowed a family visit for the first time since his transfer. His wife Naghmeh said that was initially encouraging. But, what they saw at that prison was disheartening.
Saeed's family says he was imprisoned for his Christian faith. But, he's being held in a 9-foot by 9-foot cell in a violent criminal ward of a prison where human rights organizations say prisoner on prisoner violence, including murder, is routine.
During the visit, his father said Saeed was excited to finally see some family but that he looked very thin. "He was horrified," said Naghmeh talking for Saeed's father. "He was heartbroken to see him in this new facility. It was hard enough going to the other prison. But this facility with the violent criminals on death row was very hard for him to see. Saeed, he was alive, but he didn't look well. He'd lost a lot of weight. He was under a lot of pressure and his father was very much worried about him."
Naghmeh says her husband's situation is dire and isn't sure if he will make it to Christmas. "I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas and she said, 'Nothing mom, I just want daddy.' That's all they want. That's all they want. No toys. No presents. Nothing, just to have daddy back home. I really do hope that we're going to see that soon."
How might that release happen?
There has been a lot of international pressure on Iran. Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for Saeed's release. The House is looking at a similar resolution.
President Obama and leaders in European countries have called for his release. And Naghmeh hopes her husband's freedom is a part of the ongoing talks between the U.S. and Iran about their nuclear weapons program.