Wife of U.S. pastor freed by Iran files for legal separation

(Reuters) - The wife of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor freed this month from an Iranian prison as part of a prisoner swap, has filed for legal separation from her husband, according to an Idaho state judiciary website.

Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of naturalized U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini who was detained in Iran in 2012, is pictured in the home of her parents in West Boise, Idaho, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Klayman

Naghmeh Abedini previously said in a message to supporters that became public last fall that her husband had been abusive and suffered from a pornography addiction. Reuters has not been able to independently confirm her allegations, and the husband could not be reached for comment through a spokesman.

Naghmeh Abedini said on Wednesday that her husband, freed earlier this month, had threatened the end of their marriage. He landed in Boise, Idaho on Tuesday after his release 10 days ago in Iran, and already had a “wonderful reunion” with their children Rebekka, 9 and Jacob, 7.

But on the same day she also filed for legal separation, according to a Idaho state judiciary website. She told Reuters she had not filed for divorce, but declined to elaborate and her attorney could not be reached to comment.

In a statement on Facebook, Naghmeh Abedini said on Wednesday that she had taken “temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho” until the situation with her husband has been resolved.

Saeed Abedini, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced by an Iranian court in 2013 to eight years in prison for allegedly compromising Iran’s national security by setting up home-based Christian churches there.

He was one of five Americans released as the United States and Iran swapped prisoners and Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for the Islamic Republic abiding by an agreement to curb its nuclear ambitions.

The pastor’s wife also said he demanded three months ago that she do certain things that she did not detail in order to promote him in the eyes of the public or he would end the marriage.

“I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer,” she wrote.

Naghmeh Abedini on Facebook apologized to her followers for not disclosing the abuse sooner.

“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,” she said. “Tragically, the opposite has occurred.”

In an interview at her parent’s home in Boise last week, Naghmeh Abedini had told Reuters that rebuilding their marriage after her husband’s imprisonment would take time.

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, editing by G Crosse; Editing by Alistair Bell