American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been jailed in Iran since September for his faith, is still missing, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.
However his family was told today by prison officials that Pastor Saeed had been moved to Ward 3, Hall 1 of Evin Prison. The family, however, was not able to see him or speak with him because visitation hours for this ward are on Monday. Pastor Saeed reportedly was moved to this ward to receive better medical treatment, although it is impossible to confirm his health status or if he is receiving treatment
On Friday, another huge development for the case, both the U.S. State Dept. and the White House spoke out finally condemning Iran for its imprisonment of Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen. Both have called on Iran to release him.
Abedini has been charged with attempting to undermine the Iranian government through his work starting house churches in the Islamic Republic.
The judge in his case, known as the "hanging judge," told Abedini's lawyer that his client was moved to a different part of the prison so he could receive medical treatment.
However, guards at the prison turned his family away when they attempted to visit him Thursday morning. The guards told them they didn't know where Abedini was taken.
Sign the petition to free American Pastor Saeed in Iran.
The ACLJ has been working with the pastor's family and attorney to see him released from prison.
Abedini's wife shared more about her husband's imprisonment, saying he is 'counting it all joy' to be suffeing for Christ, on Newswatch, Jan. 23. Click play to watch.
Abedini was only allowed to attend the first day of his trial, which began Monday. He has been barred from the proceedings and denied bail.
The ACLJ called the closed proceedings "a clear and continued blatant violation of human rights."
"The continued lies and demand for more testimony in a month makes it clear that Iran has no intention whatsoever of releasing Pastor Saeed, allowing to him to return to the U.S., or even issuing a verdict any time soon," ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said.
The ACLJ is calling on the State Department to speak out publicly on Abedini's behalf. Even before Thursday's disappearance, Sekulow said it was "absolutely critical at this stage for the State Department to stop refusing to publicly call for Pastor Saeed's release..."
Also this week, a family friend unsuccessfully attempted to finalize Abedini's bail. Officials even warned the friend that if he didn't stop helping the family his home would be raided and he would lose his job.
Meanwhile, the trial continues in the pastor's absence. This week, prosecution has been bringing testimony against Abedini and has also barred his lawyer from the courtroom.
They specifically questioned a lay church leader about Abedini's role in his conversion to Christianity.
"This testimony today is further proof that Iran was just trying to silence the media and has no intention of releasing my husband anytime soon," Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, said. "We need to continue exposing Iran's violations of Saeed's human rights until my husband is safely back in my arms."