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Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran returned to jail before treatment completed

Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran returned to jail before treatment completed

Maryam (Nasim) Naghash Zargaran has been taken back to Evin Prison before her medical treatment could be completed, after the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office ruled not to extend her leave.

The Christian convert has spent more than 30 months in prison since her conviction on charges relating to her Christian activities.

She was first summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in March 2010. During her interrogation, she was quizzed about her church activities and threats were made against her family. 

She was then arrested just a few days after the arrest of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American citizen who had returned to Iran to establish an orphanage in the north of the country.

On the day of Nasim’s arrest, her house was searched and her Christian books and pamphlets, and other personal belongings, were seized.

Most of the questions she was asked during her interrogation related to the increase in Iranians attending churches, the types of people attending, and what the church services entailed.

Nasim was eventually transferred to Evin Prison and brought before Branch 2 of the Shahid Moghadas Public Prosecutor’s Office. The only charge against her was “propaganda against the regime”.

Nasim was initially arrested in December 2012 and released on bail 19 days later, on a bail of 70 million tomans. On 9 March 2013, she was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by Judge Moghiseh, head of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, for “gathering and colluding and acting against national security”. This was despite the fact that such an accusation was never known to her.

The case against her centred on:

* Her change of religion from Islam to Protestant Christianity

* Her active membership in “house churches”.

* Setting up churches to attract young people to Christianity

* Communicating with Christian organisations abroad to promote Christianity

* Travel to Turkey to attend Christian gatherings

The verdict stated: “The court considers the activities carried out in pursuance of the security objectives of the United Kingdom and the occupying regime of Jerusalem to spread Christianity in Iran in order to pervert Iranian society away from Islam.” 

She was charged under articles 610 and 46 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Her appeal was rejected and on 24 July 2013 she was taken to Evin Prison to begin her sentence.

During her detention, her brother and sister were prevented from visiting her for several months.

Nasim underwent heart surgery nearly nine years ago and is in urgent need of medical care. In addition, during the last year she has suffered ankle, back and chest pains. A doctor also diagnosed her with lumbar disc disease, osteoporosis and arthritis, and prescribed physiotherapy. But though she is still suffering from severe pain, the prosecutor has not granted her permission to receive therapy.

Nasim also suffers from severe anaemia and diabetes, conditions that have become worse during her incarceration due to a lack of available treatment.