Pastor Saeed Abedini has found out that President Barack Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and pressed for his release last week, which is said to provide the American citizen a "glimmer of hope" that he might finally be released.
"Early Monday morning in Tehran, Pastor Saeed's Iranian family was able to sit and visit with him – through a glass partition – during regular visitation hours at Evin Prison," The American Center for Law and Justice (ALJ) said in a press release.
"For the first time, Pastor Saeed had a glimmer of hope that he would soon be released. Iranian news sources had reported on President Obama's phone call with President Rouhani."
Obama's historic conversation with Rouhani on Friday was the first time an American and Iranian president have spoken in 34 years, and has brought notable encouragement to the Abedini family, who have been petitioning for the pastor's release.
The U.S. pastor has been imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran for more than a year and is currently serving an 8-year sentence. The ACLJ, which represents Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and two children in the U.S., has said that the pastor is being punished for his Christian faith.
The legal group has put forth multiple petitions which have been signed by hundreds of thousands of people around the world in support of the pastor. It says that the Abedini family is cautiously optimistic at the recent developments, but the real victory will come when pastor Abedini is finally reunited with his family back in America.
"Now is a critical time to act for Pastor Saeed as his case has been raised to the highest levels of both the U.S. and Iranian governments," the ACLJ continued. "The world is watching."
Naghmeh Abedini had long called for Obama to speak out and help her husband, sharing with The Christian Post in an interview last week that she has voiced her "concern and disappointment" with the president's failure to comment previously.
After Obama finally spoke out, however, Naghmeh called it "the most encouraging news I have heard since Saeed was imprisoned one year ago."
"I am very grateful to President Obama for standing up for Saeed and for the other Americans who are held captive in Iran," she added. "This development is truly an answer to prayer. I urge President Rouhani, as I have done throughout this week, to release Saeed so he can return to our home and our family in the United States. In recent days, Iran has released 80 prisoners being held because of their beliefs. I pray that we can add Saeed to that list very soon."