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Iran: Maryam's prison sentence extended because of medical leave

12 December 2016

Maryam's prison sentence extended because of medical leave

Those close to Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran report that her sentence has been extended by 42 days to make up for time spent outside of prison in conjunction with medical leave.

Maryam was arrested in January 2013 in connection with her work on an orphanage with the Christian ex-prisoner Saeed Abedini. She was charged with 'acting against national security' and was sentenced to four years' imprisonment, which she started serving on 15 July 2013 in the women's ward of Evin Prison.

Maryam suffers from a range of health issues, including heart disease (atrial septal defect), osteoporosis, arthritis and lumbar disc disease. Poor prison conditions have undoubtedly contributed to the severity of these ailments. Medical officers in Evin Prison have been unable to treat Maryam adequately and in recent months Maryam has been granted medical leave from prison to receive necessary health care in hospitals and at home.

On 6 June 2016 Maryam was granted permission to leave prison to receive treatment on deposit of a bond of 350 million toman (US$100,000). On 19 June the court ordered Maryam to return to prison. As Maryam was still not well enough, her family applied for an extension. However, the prosecutor's office refused to extend her leave and threatened to retain the money submitted as a bond. On 27 June Maryam was escorted back to Evin Prison by members of her family.

On 5 July 2016 Maryam started a hunger strike to demand her immediate and unconditional release in view of the inadequate treatment for her health issues. Prison officials examined Maryam on 20 July and provided a medical report confirming the seriousness of her condition, but her demand for release was denied at that time by an Iranian court at the request of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). She ended the hunger strike at the request of her family at the beginning of August.

Prison authorities allowed Maryam to go home to receive medical treatment at the end of August, but on conditions that Maryam felt unable to comply with, resulting in the cancellation of her furlough from prison. Maryam returned to Evin on 17 September.

Maryam was recently allowed a further five days medical leave, but on returning to Evin Prison on Tuesday 6 December she was informed that her prison sentence had been extended by 42 days to make up for extensions to her medical leave.

Please pray:

  • For healing for Maryam, and that she will be able to receive good medical treatment
  • For comfort and strength for Maryam and her family
  • For the swift release of Maryam and the dozens of other imprisoned Christians in Iran.

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