After spending two months recovering in an Iranian hospital, Saeed Abedini has been returned to Rajai Shahr Prison, according to a report released today by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Family members said he was beaten at the hospital before officials dragged him back to the prison.
Despite Abedini’s harsh reception at the hospital, where he was kept in shackles and did not receive much medical treatment, his conditions there had improved in recent weeks. Officials had allowed family members to visit and provide meals. Authorities gave no advanced notice he would be returned to prison, and it remains unclear what’s behind the move. One family member suggested the Iranian nuclear talks might be a reason.
“This is an extremely disappointing development—one that breaks my heart,” Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed’s wife, said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Abedini’s return to prison comes in the midst of continual efforts to secure his release. About 260,000 people from around the world have signed an ACLJ petition urging Iranian officials to return Abedini to his family.
Abedini, a U.S. citizen, turned 34 on May 7. He was convicted in January 2013 of crimes against Iran’s national security for his involvement with house churches in his native country. His wife and two children live in the United States.
Read WORLD’s past coverage of Abedini’s imprisonment here.