Freed Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini: U.S. Told Me to Buy My Own Ticket Home

By Amy Furr | September 27, 2016 | 11:13am EDT

Pastor Saeed Abedini.  (CBN)

Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, who was jailed in Iran for evangelization and released in January, said that, upon his release, the U.S. government flew him to Germany for a health check-up but then told him he had to purchase his own plane ticket home to the United States.

“In Germany, actually, they told us, ‘You need to buy your own ticket to come to the United States,’ and I was shocked,” said Abedini in a Sept. 22 interview on the Fox Business Network. “I said, ‘How come?’ And they said ‘that was our job to bring you out of Iran, not bring you inside the United States.’” 

“I talked to other Americans in the hospital and we were all actually shocked because I thought that, I just came out and I had prison clothes, nothing, and they told us you need to buy your own ticket,” said Abedini, who had converted to Christianity from Shia Islam in 2000.

Abedini believes that he and the other hostages were released only after the secret $400 million payment by the Obama administration to the Iranian government had changed hands.

On Aug. 18, the Wall Street Journal reported newly discovered details regarding the $400 million payment to the Iranian government by the United States. The report stated that the payment depicts a “tightly scripted exchange specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.”

The payment, according to the report, “marked the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration announced it had reached with Tehran in January to resolve a decades-old legal dispute traced back to the final days of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. His government paid $400 million into a Pentagon trust fund in 1979 for military parts that were never delivered because of the Islamic revolution that toppled him.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

and Iranian foreign Minister

Mohammed Javad Zarif. (AP) 

In a Sept. 21 commentary published by, Abedini stated,  “At the time I couldn’t believe it – I thought America would never give Iran money. As much as I was concerned for my own wellbeing, I knew the mullahs. I knew they would use that money to torture thousands more people, maybe hundreds of thousands. They would use it to boost their power on the backs of the millions of Iranians who are good people and who want freedom.” 

“I wanted to be free so badly, but I didn’t want my freedom to cause more death and more torture,” Abedini wrote.

“I knew some people involved in the process legitimately cared about me, but I also know the truth,” he said. “I am not free because I am a U.S. citizen. I am free because I was useful for negotiations, and only for a brief moment in time. If I hadn’t been useful, I would still be there.”

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