Saeed Abedini, a U.S. pastor who has been imprisoned for his faith, was severely beaten at an Iranian hospital, forcibly removed, and returned to the brutal Rajai Shahr prison.
His Iranian family claims the transfer was unexpected and the reason is unclear. But one of the guards involved in the transfer suggested recent Iranian nuclear talks could be a motive, the family said.
"This is an extremely disappointing development - one that breaks my heart," Naghmeh Abedini, Pastor Saeed's wife, said.
"Our family is deeply saddened and we continue to pray for Saeed - for his safety and his release. We are very grateful that so many people around the world continue to pray for Saeed," she added.
In March, Pastor Saeed experienced similar treatment. He was transferred to the same hospital in shackles and beaten by guards. Abedini was then denied medical treatment and visits from relatives.
Saeed's situation at the hospital had improved after global criticism. He was allowed frequent visits from local family members and was given nutritional meals.
His forcible return to prison comes as efforts continue around the world to secure his release.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) nearly 260,000 people from around the world have already signed the BeHeardProject petition, in an effort to get him released.