Christian Prisoner Maryam Zargaran, who has now spent over three weeks on a hunger strike in Iranian prison, has been denied a release on medical grounds by the Iranian court, despite reports of her worsening medical condition.

Mohabat News reported Monday that the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has refused to grant Zargaran's release despite signs that she is developing multiple sclerosis. The Christian woman began her second hunger strike on July 5 in protest against the treatment she has received in prison, and reports are saying that she has become very weak, with her long-term heart condition posing an increasing health risk.

Zargaran's family were allowed to visit her in prison recently, but revealed that she refuses to receive treatment at the prison clinic because staff mistreat her there.

The Iranian Christian woman has been held inside Evin Prison's Women's Ward since July 15, 2013, for helping American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who also spent three and a half years in prison in Iran before being released and returning to America.

Abedini has been speaking out against the persecution of Christians in Iran and against Zargaran's treatment ever since, and on Saturday wrote on Facebook: "Today is day 20 of Nasim hunger strike and NO [response] from anyone."

Abedini has also criticized some women's rights activists for not advocating for her release.

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