Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned in Iran for several years, revealed that the U.S. government told him he would have to buy his own ticket to return home.
Abedini was incarcerated in Iran’s Evin Prison since 2012, and many groups fought for his release for years. Finally, in January, he was set free and allowed to go home to his family in the U.S.
Upon his release, the American government apparently took him to Germany. He was made to undergo a medical checkup, and he spent a few days in a hospital.
While in Germany, he was told that he should secure his own ticket back to the U.S. Apparently, the people who helped him leave Iran was tasked with simply getting him out of Iran, not taking him all the way home.
“In Germany, actually, they told us, ‘You need to buy your own ticket to come to the United States,’ and I was shocked,” Abedini said in an interview. “I said, ‘How come?’ And they said ‘that was our job to bring you out of Iran, not bring you inside the United States.’”
The news caught him by surprise because, having just been released from prison, he practically had nothing with him save for the clothes on his back.
“We were actually all shocked because I came out; I just had prison clothes and [they] just told us you need to buy your own ticket,” Abedini said.
His release also raised questions of whether the U.S. government paid Iran a ransom of $400 million. Last month, a report went out providing details about an exchange of money between the Iranian and U.S. governments.
The exchange was “specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran,” the report said.
When asked about the issue in August, Abedini said he had suspicions that it was true, but he and his companions did not discuss money.
“We call them terrorists and I don’t believe they are going to use this money for building orphanages, which I was arrested for, but I prefer that the politicians answer this question,” he explained.
However, in a recent article he wrote for Fox News, Abedini said that although he couldn’t believe it at first, he later realized he was a “bargaining chip in a much larger political game.”
“At the time I didn’t believe it – I thought America would never give Iran money,” he said. "As much as I was concerned for my own well being, I knew the mullahs. I knew they would use that money to torture thousands more people, maybe hundreds of thousands.”
However, he holds no bitterness toward the U.S. government.
“Today I am deeply thankful to God and the United States that I’m free. Please, do not read an ounce of ingratitude in this,” he wrote.
Abedini was a former Muslim who turned his back on Islam and embraced Christianity in 2000. He established an orphanage in Iran, which he visited from time to time. In 2012, while he was in Iran, he was placed under house arrest by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was later on imprisoned. He was charged with undermining national security.