In Iran, Pastor Saeed Abedini was guilty as charged for being a Christian. He was imprisoned for three years for practicing his faith until earlier this month, when a prisoner swap guaranteed him and three other American prisoners’ return home, including U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and Nosratollah Khosrawi. A fifth American detainee was released separately. Abedini gave his first tell-all interview about the harrowing ordeal to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. She shared the compelling conversation with her viewers Monday night.
Abedini offered some new details about how he came to be imprisoned. While he is convinced he was jailed simply for wearing his faith on his sleeve, he says a judge accused him of “using Christianity to remove the government.”
He denied the charge and tried to explain he just came to Iran to help build orphanages and to “pray,” and “love” his neighbors.
Yet, the judge would not relent, nor let Abedini’s lawyer talk. After ten frustrating minutes, Abedini was taken back to prison.
While in captivity, Abedini revealed that for two months he was in the same room as U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati. The pastor said he could not hold back the tears witnessing how the Iranians had treated the veteran.
Abedini was “very heartbroken,” to see a fellow American in so much pain, he recalled.
Abedini didn’t exactly have a comfortable imprisonment, either. The pastor described being beaten during interrogations, as well as the emotional toll of watching other prisoners prepare for execution.
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“The worst thing I saw was when they took some Sunnis for execution, it was in front of our eyes, and they took like tens of them to hang, every Wednesday,” he said.
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Sadly, the whereabouts of another Iranian prisoner, Robert Levinson, remain unknown.
Watch all of Abedini and Susteren’s conversation below: