Officials in Iran have reversed course and are calling the shackling of an American pastor imprisoned in the country, as well as the denial of medical treatment, a “mistake.”
As previously reported, Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born American, was set to receive treatment last week for injuries resulting from his numerous beatings while incarcerated. He began receiving tests and nourishment at first, but matters reportedly turned abruptly hostile earlier this week.
“Iranian guards lashed out violently against Pastor Saeed and an elderly relative who had been able to visit him in the hospital,” American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Executive Director Jordan Sekulow wrote in an update on Wednesday. “Pastor Saeed was pinned down and shackled. His elderly relative was roughly handled and expelled from the hospital.”
“The guards stated that they had a court order banning visitors and instructing that he be shackled at all times. Hospital doctors also told Pastor Saeed that he must leave the hospital and return to prison,” he continued. “They are refusing to provide him with anything more than mere pain medication. They have denied him surgery—the only treatment that will help. They have even denied him test results.”
However, reports now state that hospital officials have changed their minds.
“A family member in Iran then went to Iranian prison officials and asked for an explanation,” Sekulow explained in his latest update. “The prison official told him the whole ordeal–the shackles, the refused medical treatment, and the order to return to prison—was a ‘mistake.'”
“The warden then called the hospital and ordered that Pastor Saeed be unchained and permitted to visit the family member,” he continued. “The family member was able to visit with Pastor Saeed briefly at the hospital. He was not in shackles but had not received any medical treatment.”
While the ACLJ remains concerned that Abedini has not yet received the needed treatment, it believes that the voices of the people can make a difference.
“It is imperative that the American people and world leaders around the globe continue to speak out for Pastor Saeed—a U.S. citizen—call for medical treatment, and most importantly demand that he be allowed to return home to his wife and children,” Sekulow said. “It’s extremely disturbing that the Iranian government continues to play games with the life of this U.S. citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran for a year and a half now simply because of his Christian faith.”
As previously reported, Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and children to find religious freedom. Last fall, he traveled back to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents—and was about to return to the states—when he was taken into custody.
Abedini was later charged with threatening the national security of Iran, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity. He was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has spent the past year. In November, he was transported to Rajai Shahr Prison, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety.
Editor’s Note: Those who wish to be a voice for Pastor Saeed Abedini may sign a petition created by the ACLJ urging clemency for the pastor.