Australian Lecturer Moved to Iranian Jail

July 28, 2020 Updated: July 28, 2020

Australian university lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, jailed in Iran for spying, has been moved to a harsh women’s prison in the desert.

The dual UK-Australian national has been in Tehran’s Evin Prison since September 2018. She denies all the espionage charges against her.

Reza Khandan, the husband of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who is in Evin prison for her human rights activism, has posted on Facebook that Moore-Gilbert was transferred in recent days to Qarchak women’s prison for “punishment reasons.”

Khandan said Moore-Gilbert was able to contact him to say the conditions at Qarchak were very bad.

“I cannot eat anything, I am very disappointed, I am so very depressed,” he reported her saying.

Moore-Gilbert told Khandan she had last spoken to her family about a month ago.

Qarchak is in the desert east of Tehran and is reportedly rife with coronavirus, is very overcrowded, has poor sanitation and not enough beds for all inmates.

The jail holds political prisoners as well as those who have committed violent crimes. 

In May, Moore-Gilbert’s family issued a statement saying she was in “good health and she had “strongly denied reports that she has attempted suicide or that she is being tortured.”

“She seems to be in good health considering her situation. We love her and miss her. We ask that you continue to respect both Kylie’s and our privacy while we concentrate on getting her home.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says it is aware of Moore-Gilbert’s move to Qarchak Prison and is urgently seeking further consular access to her at this new location.

“Dr Moore-Gilbert’s case is one of our highest priorities, including for our embassy officials in Tehran,” a DFAT spokeswoman said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“Our Ambassador to Iran recently visited Moore-Gilbert in Evin Prison, and she has had telephone contact with her family and the Ambassador over the last several months.

“We hold Iran responsible for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s safety and well-being.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne had repeatedly raised the case with Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif, a DFAT spokeswoman said.

Moore-Gilbert, who lectured in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in September 2018 while at an educational conference and was later convicted of espionage.

She is understood to be serving a 10-year sentence.