Pastor Saeed Forcibly Returned to Prison after Beating
Saeed Abedini, a U.S. pastor imprisoned for his faith, was severely beaten at an Iranian hospital before being returned to the brutal Rajai Shahr prison.
His Iranian family claims the transfer was unexpected and the reason is unclear. But one of the guards involved in the transfer suggested recent Iranian nuclear talks could be a motive, the family said.
"Imagine being an individual who is important to talks between nations about a nuclear program," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, said. "It's pretty unprecedented that that could be the case, so that was picked up on by those who were watching this unfold at the hospital."
How is pastor Saeed's family handling the latest news? Jordan Sekulow from the American Center for Law and Justice, answers this and more on CBN Newswatch, May 21.
Naghmeh Abedini, Pastor Saeed's wife, said, "This is an extremely disappointing development -- one that breaks my heart,"
"Really when I heard the news, again, at midnight my time, I felt like it was even worse than the initial call, the one I received when he was taken two years ago," she continued.
"Our family is deeply saddened and we continue to pray for Saeed -- for his safety and his release. We are very grateful that so many people around the world continue to pray for Saeed," she said.
In March, Pastor Saeed experienced similar treatment. He was transferred to the same hospital in shackles and beaten by guards. Abedini was then denied medical treatment and visits from relatives.
Saeed's situation at the hospital had improved after global criticism. He was allowed frequent visits from local family members and was given nutritional meals.
Saeed's forcible return to prison comes as efforts continue around the world to secure his release.
According to the ACLJ, nearly 260,000 people worldwide have signed the BeHeard Project petition in an effort to get him released.
Let your voice be heard, sign the petition.
Meanwhile, persecution against Iranian Christians is increasing.
In 2010, security police arrested 35-year-old Farshid Fathi in a raid targeting house churches. Farshid is serving a six-year sentence in Iran's infamous Evin Prison, where he's been beaten and abused.
Still, there's a light in the darkness.
David Yeghnazar with Elam Ministries says despite the treatment of Christians like Saeed and Farshid, somehow the Church continues to grow.
"It's not just them who suffer. [It's also] their families, their communities, their churches," he said. "And yet their courage means that the Church continues to grow so although it's a story of suffering, it's also a story of growth in the Church in Iran."