Australian envoy says academic jailed in Iran doing 'well'

Ambassador Lyndall Sachs visited with Kylie Moore-Gilbert Sunday following her transfer to a notorious desert prison last month.

al-monitor An Iranian inmate peers from behind a wall as a guard walks by at the female section of the infamous Evin jail, north of Tehran, June 13, 2006. Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 4, 2020

Australia's envoy to Iran said she recently met with Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic convicted of espionage, and she is doing “well” in prison. 

Iran has held Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer on Middle East politics at the University of Melbourne, since September 2018, when she was arrested after returning from an academic conference in the holy city of Qom.

The Australian government confirmed last month that Moore-Gilbert had been transferred from Evin prison in Tehran to the notorious Qarchak women’s prison in what Iran watchers interpreted as a form of punishment. She denies all charges of espionage, and in December lost an appeal against her 10-year-sentence. 

Ambassador Lyndall Sachs visited Moore-Gilbert in prison on Sunday, per a statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

"Dr. Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities and books,” the statement read. "We believe that the best chance of resolving Dr. Moore-Gilbert's case lies through the diplomatic path.” 

Moore-Gilbert’s family said in a statement they was “reassured” by the meeting, adding, “We remain committed to getting our Kylie home as soon as possible.”

The US State Department has described Qarchak prison, where Moore-Gilbert is currently detained, as “known for unbearable conditions, including regular assaults and inappropriate behavior of prison guards toward women, chronic lack of water, unsanitary living spaces and an environment that enables rape and murder.”

A report from the the Human Rights Activists News Agency, an Iranian activist group, described the facility as a place prisoners are moved “to put them under more pressure.” 

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