An American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran for over the past two years has again been beaten behind bars.
As previously reported, Saeed Abedini, a former Iranian Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and two children to find religious freedom after facing conflict with authorities for planting house churches in the county. In 2012, 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 two years behind bars.
In November 2013, Abedini was transported to Rajai Shahr Prison, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. Last May, while obtaining treatment at a local hospital for injuries sustained from beatings, he was likewise beaten and returned to prison.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and Abedini’s wife Naghmeh have been urging both the U.S. government and international bodies to work toward the pastor’s release. Naghmeh met with Barack Obama in January, where she was reportedly advised that “getting Saeed out is a top priority.” She spoke before a congressional panel last week on behalf on behalf of her husband.
But in a new report released on Wednesday by the ACLJ, it was outlined that Abedini has once again been beaten behind bars.
“Unprovoked, fellow prisoners attacked Pastor Saeed as he attempted to leave his cell, punching him in the face near his left eye and nose,” Executive Director Jordan Sekulow wrote. “In addition to physically beating the persecuted pastor, prisoners demolished a small table Pastor Saeed used to study and read.”
“As he was attacked, Pastor Saeed called out for help,” he continued. “Iranian prison guards did intervene and prevent further injury. However, Pastor Saeed suffered injuries to his face—his eyes beaten black and blue. He was able to be seen briefly by a prison doctor, and thankfully he did not receive any broken bones.”
Abedini informed a family member that he had been beaten when they visited him this week. The information was then relayed to his wife.
“It is heartbreaking to me and my family that Saeed was again beaten in prison,” she said in a statement included in ACLJ’s update. “Saeed’s life is continuously threatened not only because he is an American, but also because he is a convert from Islam to Christianity. It’s time to get Saeed home before it is too late.”
As previously reported, in April, Abedini’s wife outlined that guards have continued to pressure him to deny Christ and return to Islam.
“They continually threaten Saeed that the only key to his freedom is denying Christ and returning to Islam,” she said. “Saeed refuses to deny Christ and continues to be a light and witness in that dark prison.”