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White House Concerned About American Pastor's Health After Removal from Iranian Hospital to Prison


"This unexpected move raises great concern."

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, file photo, Calvary Chapel of Boise Pastor Bob Caldwell, left, prays with Naghmeh Abedini, center, wife of Saeed Abedini, and Tiffany Barrans, with the American Center for Law and Justice on the steps of the Capitol building in Boise, Idaho. A decision by Iranian officials to transfer American pastor Saeed Abedini to a notoriously violent prison has heightened concern among relatives and energized lawmakers pushing for his immediate release. Saeed Abedini was convicted and sentenced earlier this year to eight years in prison for creating a network of Christian churches in private homes in Iran. Until recently, he was being held in a prison with other political detainees. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Adam Eschbach, File) AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune, Adam Eschbach, File

The family of the American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith says the sick and injured pastor was forcibly removed from the hospital, beaten and returned to prison.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, holds up a photo of her children as she testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee December 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Abedini testified on the topic of 'Iran's Persecution of American Pastor Abedini Worsens.' Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House, which has called on the government of Iran to release Pastor Saeed Abedini, knows about the recent development and said the administration is in touch with his family.

“We are aware of reports that Saeed Abedini was transferred from a private hospital to Rajai Shahr prison,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan told TheBlaze.

“We remain concerned about Mr. Abedini’s health and welfare,” Meehan continued. “We call on Iran to release Mr. Abedini so that he may be reunited with his family. We also repeat our request for Iran to permit Mr. Abedini to receive any necessary medical treatment, and to grant Swiss officials, who serve as our protecting power, consular access to determine his well-being. We remain in touch with Mr. Abedini’s family regarding developments in his case.”

Among the many complexities in Abedini’s imprisonment is that it is happening at a time when the Obama administration is engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The pastor has been a political prisoner for two years.

In March, Abedini was transferred to a private hospital in Iran for treatment and surgery for a worsening chronic stomach pain suffered as a result of repeated beatings in prison by both guards and inmates, Fox News reported. However, family members said that shortly after he was admitted, he was shackled and beaten by guards and denied medical treatment.

After spending two months in the hospital, he was beaten and taken back to the prison.

"This news is devastating to our family,” his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, told FoxNews. “This development also came as a complete shock to all of us. Saeed's family, who was present at the hospital when this occurred, witnessed the severe beatings that Saeed received—at one point seeing him collapse before being taken away. We're very concerned about his health."

Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing the Abedini family said the new development was disturbing.

“We've been hopeful since Pastor Saeed has spent the last two months in the hospital, instead of a prison cell. But this unexpected move raises great concern,” Sekulow told Fox News. He added,

“Pastor Saeed is an American citizen who is being punished because he's a Christian. That was unacceptable when he was taken into custody nearly two years ago, and it is unacceptable today."

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