By Our Middle East Correspondent

ISTANBUL
, Turkey, April, 2017(Morning Star News) –The health of  convert Maryam imprisoned for her faith has taken a dramatic downturn over the past few weeks, causing her family to speak out to the news media, advocates reported.

After an ongoing battle with heart disease, the effects of at least two hunger strikes and continued poor medical treatment, Maryam Naghash Zargaran’s weight has dropped to dangerously low levels, according to Mohabat News.

The news service reported that she is in urgent need of medical care from cardiologists, which has been denied by Iranian authorities, either on the national level or from Evin Prison where she is jailed. Previously the prosecutor in her case denied a temporary release for medical treatment.

Zargaran suffers from a serious congenital heart condition known as an atrial septal defect, commonly referred to as “a hole in the heart,” and also has severe headaches accompanied by ear pain, tremors, chronic joint and spine pain and numbness in her hands and legs. In June 2016, she was allowed to leave the prison temporarily and go to a hospital for treatment.

Iranian officials arrested Zargaran in January 2013 for her activities in the Iranian house-church movement and her association with Saeed Abedini, a U.S.-Iranian Christian pastor imprisoned on fabricated charges related to his house-church work. Zargaran was found guilty of “threatening national security” and sentenced to four years in prison, which she began serving on July 13, 2013. An appeal for retrial was denied.

Abedini was found guilty of the same charge and sentenced to eight years in prison, but he was released in January 2016 after serving more than three years of his sentence as part of negotiations over a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with the United States and other aligned nations.