British-Australian academic jailed in Iran’s notorious desert prison 'is well,' Australia says

Australia's ambassador said Kylie Moore-Gilbert has access to food, medical facilities and books

Australia’s ambassador to Iran visited a British-Australian academic being held in a notorious Iranian desert prison and found that she “is well,” Australia’s government said Tuesday.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Melbourne University, has been detained in Iran since September 2018, serving a 10-year sentence for espionage. She has denied the allegations.

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She was transferred last week to Qarchak prison, a remote jail that is known to hold the country’s political prisoners along with inmates convicted of murder and drug offenses.

Australia’s ambassador to Iran, Lyndall Sachs, visited Moore-Gilbert in Qarchak Prison on Sunday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), said in a statement.

Moore-Gilbert was transferred to Iran's notorious and remote Qarchak prison last week. She has since been visited by Australia's ambassador to Iran, who says she "is well."

Moore-Gilbert was transferred to Iran's notorious and remote Qarchak prison last week. She has since been visited by Australia's ambassador to Iran, who says she "is well." (Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

“Dr. Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities, and books,” the statement said. “We will continue to seek regular consular access to Dr. Moore-Gilbert."

The statement said Australia believes the best way to bring Moore-Gilbert home is “through the diplomatic path.”

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Moore-Gilbert’s family said they were reassured by the ambassador’s prison visit and “remain committed to getting our Kylie home as soon as possible,” calling it their “top and only priority.”

“We continue to believe that Kylie’s best chance at release is through diplomatic avenues and are in close contact with DFAT and the Australian government on the best ways to achieve this,” a family statement said.

This image made from a 2017 video by The Modern Middle East shows Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a University of Melbourne scholar on the Middle East. Concerns for her well-being have escalated after her transfer to Qarchak prison last week. (The Modern Middle East via AP)

This image made from a 2017 video by The Modern Middle East shows Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a University of Melbourne scholar on the Middle East. Concerns for her well-being have escalated after her transfer to Qarchak prison last week. (The Modern Middle East via AP)

In 2018, Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran airport while trying to leave Iran after attending an academic conference even though she reportedly had official permission and the correct visas to attend.

Reza Khandan, whose wife, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, was imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison with Moore-Gilbert before her transfer, posted on social media last week that she had been moved to Qarchak “as a form of punishment.”

She was believed to be held under harsh conditions and was not separated from the prison’s violent criminals, the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a U.S.-based organization, said last week.

Moore-Gilbert, who has gone on several hunger strikes while jailed, has pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her during almost two years in custody.

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In a letter to Australia's prime minister last year, she wrote that she was subjected to "psychological torture and spending prolonged periods of time in solitary confinement.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.