Iran removes shackles from imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini

Saeed Abedini

Iran now claims that the violent treatment of imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini- who was shackled and ordered to return to his prison cell before receiving the critical medical treatment he needs - was a "mistake" and should not have occurred.

According to a news release from The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is working to secure Abedini's release, this new development comes one day after the ACLJ called attention to Abedini's worsening plight.

Abedini was promised surgery for injuries he suffered from prison beatings - only to have the Iranian government deny the surgery, put him in shackles and threaten to return him to his prison cell without medical treatment.

One of Abedini's family members went to Rajai Shahr Prison to find out why he was denied medical care. He was told by prison officials that the whole ordeal was a "mistake", and that the warden called the hospital and ordered Abedini be unchained and allowed to visit the family member.

The ACLJ said a short visit was allowed with Abedini at the hospital. He was not in shackles at the time, but had not received any medical treatment.

"We know that the voices and prayers of the worldwide community truly make a difference," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, which represents Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children who live in the US.

Speaking in the news release Sekulow said, "We will continue to put pressure on Iran to provide the vital medical treatment that Pastor Saeed so desperately needs. It's extremely disturbing that the Iranian government continues to play games with the life of this US citizen - who has been imprisoned in Iran for a year and a half now simply because of his Christian faith. We are continuing to fight for Pastor Saeed's freedom. Right now, a legal team from both our U.S. and international offices is meeting with world leaders at the United Nations office in Geneva."

Sekulow continued, "The start of the Iranian new year on March 21 is often a time when the Iranian government offers clemency to prisoners of conscience. Iran has a very visible window of opportunity in the week ahead - to act on earlier comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif who told the media that clemency for Pastor Saeed could be possible. It's time for Iran to act and to free Pastor Saeed now, so he can get the medical attention he needs and return to his family."

Abedini, 33, is serving an eight year prison sentence because of his Christian faith. He has been incarcerated for more than a year.