Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012
Jailed Iranian pastor Behnam Irani is "already facing death" after being denied proper medical care, which reportedly goes against what prison officials had promised.
An update on his condition was provided by Worthy News, who contacted Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the pastor's Church of Iran congregation. According to Khandjani, Pastor Irani was still suffering in jail, and his situation was getting worse.
"He is in need of surgery," said Jason DeMars, a spokesman for Present Truth Ministries in a phone interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday. "His health has been slowly deteriorating as of late. The Iranian officials at one point stated that he was going to get surgery there in prison, but shortly thereafter they said that he will not be having that surgery."
Present Truth Ministries has had contact with Irani and seeks to highlight his story to the international community.
Previous reports noted that Irani, who is in his 40s, had been severely beaten at Karaj's Ghezel Hesar Prison. He was arrested in 2011 allegedly for acting against the interests of national security, but several persecution watch groups have stated the real reason for his imprisonment is his preaching of the Gospel and leading people to Christ in Iran, a largely Muslim nation.
The pastor had been found several times unconscious in his prison cell when visited, raising fears for his well-being. A hospital examination had discovered that he was suffering from a bleeding ulcer, and officials had claimed that he would be provided with more care – but so far, that hasn't happened.
"Pastor Behnam Irani has a blood infection and he might be sent to a hospital for surgery…[They] may remove part of his intestines, which are [the] source of infection," Khandjani had said at the time.
"However despite earlier promises nothing has been done," he said most recently.
Irani is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for his church-related activities, although sources have warned that there could be "an implicit death penalty in the verdict" of the court, because the judge has referred to him as an "apostate," with the court believing that "apostates must be put to death."
Irani chose to join Christianity in 1992, and became a pastor and started spreading the Gospel 10 years later. His wife and two children have said they are afraid that unless the beatings stop and he is offered proper medical care, he might die in the prison soon.