Maryam Naghash Zargaran. Photo: World Watch Monitor, 2012

The health of Iranian Christian convert, Maryam Naghash Zargaran, continues to decline, sources told Mohabat News.

It was reported that over the past week her condition worsened and she is again in need of urgent medical care.

According to a prison mate, Zargaran is also suffering from severe weight loss.

The stressful conditions in prison have exacerbated her congenital heart condition, reported to be Atrial Septal Defect (also known as ‘hole in the heart’) which can reduce the blood’s oxygen levels.

Zargaran, accused of running a house church, was imprisoned in the women’s ward of Evin Detention Centre, Tehran, in 2013. She has been on hunger strike several times to protest against being denied medical treatment for long-standing health issues. Her sentence was extended to make up for time receiving treatment outside prison.

Last year her family said that prison conditions and the pressure of her pending court case had traumatised her and left her suffering with depression.

Ebrahim Firouzi

Ebrahim Firouzi. Photo: Facebook

Another imprisoned Christian convert recently heard from the Iranian Court of Appeal that his five-year sentence has been upheld.

The decision over Ebrahim Firouzi’s case – made in December 2016 but only just revealed – means he will not be released until January 2020. After release he will be exiled to Sarbaz, a deprived township in Sistan-Baluchestan, according to Mohabat News.

Firouzi’s requests for special leave during his imprisonment have always been turned down. In the past he has asked for leave to see his mother, who has had cancer for the past year, and whose poor health has left her unable to visit her son in prison. In July 2016, she sent a video message to court officials saying she believed the stress of not seeing him was the major cause of her cancer.

Firouzi, from Robat-Karim, 20 kilometres south-west of Tehran, was arrested in March 2013, aged 28. (He’d already spent 10 months in prison on a previous charge). In June 2013, he was charged with “promoting Christian Zionism, attempting to launch a Christian website, making contact with suspicious foreigners, and running online church services”. His sentence for the 2013 arrest was first just one year with two years exiled to Sarbaz. However, when he should have been released in January 2015, a new case was opened against him – which he eventually started to serve time for in April 2015. At present, he barely has access to a mobile phone, says Mohabat.