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Australian Ambassador to Meet With Jailed Australian-British Academic

August 1, 2020
Natasha Schmidt
3 min read
Australian Ambassador to Meet With Jailed Australian-British Academic

Jailed Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert will meet with the Australian ambassador to Iran on Sunday, August 2. 

The Free Kylie Moore-Gilbert campaign tweeted on August 1 that Australian ambassador Lyndall Sachs would visit Dr. Moore-Gilbert in Qarchak Prison in Varamin, where she was transferred on July 25. The prison is known to have unsanitary conditions, including poorly-flltrated drinking water that prisoners have complained is undrinkable due to high levels of salt. The campaign group has urged prison authorities to ensure Moore-Gilbert has clean drinking water.

A spokesperson for the Australian government’s foreign affairs department confirmed that the ambassador would be visiting Moore-Gilbert. “We hold Iran responsible for Dr. Moore-Gilbert’s safety and wellbeing,” the department said in a statement. 

A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said, “The welfare of all our dual-national detainees remains our top priority. We have consistently called for their urgent release on humanitarian grounds.”

Iranian rights campaigner Reza Khandan spoke to the jailed lecturer after her move to Qarchak. She told him she believed she was being punished for asking to be moved to a ward at Evin Prison that was not under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. As punishment for her for protest, she said, she was sent to a prison with much worse conditions and where there have been reported cases of Covid-19. She is being kept on a ward with prisoners jailed for violent crimes. 


It is rare for foreign prisoners to be kept in Qarchak Prison. “The smallest and the most ordinary requests by the inmates are answered with insults and humiliation,” a former prisoner who was jailed at Qarchak in 2018 said. “The prisoners have very basic facilities. The most painful of all are the conditions at the mothers’ ward at the prison. The children who are born in prison and live in prison have nothing in the way of care, education or play. After seeing conditions in this prison, we will not be able to go on with our lives as we did before.”

In February 2019, prison guards carried out raids on several cells at the prison in response to what they described as an uprising. Inmates had protests against conditions in the prison, including the lack of safe drinking water. 

On July 31, Amnesty International reported that it had obtained leaked documents outlining that prison officials had appealed to the Iranian health ministry to provide prisons with more resources to deal with Covid-19. 

Dr. Moore-Gilbert was arrested on charges of espionage in September 2018 as she was the airport in Tehran waiting to return to Australia after a research trip. A professor in Islamic studies, her work focuses on the Gulf states, authoritarianism and new media. Before her arrest she had published several articles on Bahrain. 

According to the group campaigning for her release, Dr. Moore-Gilbert attempted suicide while in Evin Prison. “The Australian government has called for quiet diplomacy in securing Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s release,” the Free Kylie Moore-Gilbert campaign website says. “However, it has been two years now and this approach is no longer viable.”

Details of the charges against Dr. Moore-Gilbert have not been made public and her trial on espionage charges was held in secret. 

Iran does not recognize dual nationality, and rarely allows consular access for detainees.


Related Coverage: 

Iran Punishes Australian Academic by Jailing her With Dangerous Criminals

Iran Ignores Pleas to Protect Prisoners from Covid-19

Women’s Day Protesters Released from Gharchak Prison


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