DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A rights group is alleging Iran purposely left an imprisoned journalist’s cancer undetected to the point that he had to lose an eye and part of his face after being released.

New York-based Center for Human Rights for Iran said Tuesday the blame for 54-year-old Alireza Rajaei having to undergo the surgery should be placed on Iranian prison authorities.

Rajaei, a pro-reform journalist, served four years beginning in 2011 on the charge of acting against national security and making anti-government propaganda.

The center quoted his wife as saying authorities at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison refused to allow him to be tested, allowing his cancer to grow.

On Sunday, Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi offered sympathy for Rajaei, but said there “was no sign of the illness” during his incarceration.