- (Photo: aclj.org)
The family of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran has finally been allowed to visit him in Rajai Shahr Prison, where he was abruptly transferred to earlier this month. But the U.S. citizen is still being denied the medication that he needs.
"Pastor Saeed's situation remains dire. However, we are encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed visitation – and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him. Pastor Saeed, however, has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors," the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported in an update on the pastor's condition on Monday.
The update served as the first physical confirmation of Pastor Saeed's condition and life since he was taken out of Evin Prison earlier this month and transferred to Rajai Shahr. The law group, which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S., noted that the pastor is being kept inside the violent criminal ward and is sharing a cell with other prisoners.
A number of human rights groups have condemned the conditions inside Rajai Shahr, and noted that prisoners are often killed by other criminals when they are sent there.
Abedini is currently serving an 8-year sentence in Iran because of his Christian faith, though international efforts and numerous petitions headed by the ACLJ have called for his release. President Barack Obama has also spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about the U.S. citizen's situation, but so far Iranian authorities have refused to grant his release.
Last week, Abedini's father was prevented from visiting his son in prison and giving him medication and blankets that he needs. ALCJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow has warned that while the pastor's medical condition had been improving in Evin prison, the lack of proper medication in his new prison is likely to lead to his health quickly deteriorating.
"We believe that prayer and strong international pressure – the outcry of hundreds of thousands of people around the world – are keeping Pastor Saeed alive," the ACLJ added in the latest update.
Several politicians continue their efforts calling for Abedini's release, with the U.S. Senate passing an unanimous bipartisan resolution last week, and members of the European Parliament speaking out on his behalf.
"We continue to urge President Obama – who has previously directly spoken out about Pastor Saeed's case – and the U.S. State Department to re-engage this issue at the highest levels. As international negotiations continue with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Pastor Saeed's freedom must be a chief concern," the law group concluded.