Christian prisoner in Iran again denied extension of medical leave; return to prison interrupts treatment

Maryam (Nasim) Naghash Zargaran, 36, a Christian prisoner, has once again been refused an extension to her medical leave by an Iranian court, even though her doctor has strongly advised that she should continue her treatment. An Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, has quoted a source close to the Zargaran family saying, “Her mother went to the court on Sunday asking for an extension to her leave, but they refused. She was told her daughter has stayed out of prison beyond her leave and needs to return to prison today.”

Maryam had initially been denied medical leave. She protested against the indifference towards her health issues and unfair treatment shown by the Iranian authorities by going on a hunger strike from 25 May for eleven days; she was then granted medical leave on 6 June.

While on medical leave she was hospitalised and treated for various health issues until 18 June, when she was asked to return to prison mid-treatment. She went back to prison on 27 June, after her appeal for an extension was refused by the authorities. 

Maryam has a heart condition known as Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) for which she underwent heart surgery about nine years ago. “More recently she has been feeling numbness in her hands and feet and suffers from chronic pain in her joints and spinal cord,” reported Mohabat News. 

She was on medical leave from prison in October last year also, but had to halt her treatment after her application to extend the medical leave was denied by the Attorney General of Tehran.

Maryam, an Iranian Christian convert from Islam, was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to four years in prison for “propagating against the Islamic regime, and colluding to undermine national security”, a typical accusation made against many Iranian converts from Islam. She has been held in Evin prison, Iran’s most notorious prison, since July 2013. 

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