Iranian authorities will allow an Australian ambassador to meet Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian university lecturer who was jailed for spying, according to a news agency affiliated with the country’s judiciary.
Moore-Gilbert, an academic at the University of Melbourne, has been detained in Iran since 2018. She was found guilty of espionage last year and sentenced to 10 years in prison; on Tuesday, she was transferred to a women’s prison notorious for human rights violations.
“The person convicted of espionage is scheduled to meet with the Australian ambassador on Sunday,” according to Iranian news agency Mizan. “Following the publication of a claim in cyberspace that Moore Gilbert was in poor physical condition, the Mizan reporter found out that the prisoner was in perfect health,” said the report.
A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to CNN that its ambassador to Iran will be allowed to make a consular visit to Moore-Gilbert “shortly.”
“Dr Moore-Gilbert’s case is one of the Australian government’s highest priorities, including for our embassy officials in Tehran,” the spokesperson said. “We hold Iran responsible for Dr. Moore-Gilbert’s safety and well-being.”
The statement added that the Australian ambassador recently visited the academic in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she was imprisoned before Tuesday’s transfer, and that she has had telephone contact with her family and the ambassador over the last several months.
She is now in the Qarchak women’s prison, east of the capital, according to an Australian spokesperson.
In December 2019, the US State Department determined that Qarchak Prison met the criteria for “gross human rights violations,” describing it as “an environment that enables rape and murder.”
An academic jailed
Moore-Gilbert holds dual British and Australian citizenship, and is a fellow and lecturer in Islamic Studies focusing on politics in the Arab Gulf states, according to her biography on the University of Melbourne’s website.
The website states that she graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2013 and completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne four years later. According to Australian state broadcaster ABC, she was in Iran in 2018 to start a course in the city of Qom when she was detained.
In 2019, Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Moore-Gilbert had been “spying for another country.” A source with knowledge of the matter told CNN at the time that Moore-Gilbert had already been tried and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Last Christmas, Moore-Gilbert and Iranian-born French academic Dr. Fariba Adelkhah, who had also been imprisoned in Evin Prison, started a hunger strike together “in the name of academic freedom,” according to a joint open letter they wrote shared by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“We will strike on behalf of all academics and researchers across Iran and the Middle East, who like us have been unjustly imprisoned on trumped up charges and simply doing their job as researchers,” the two women wrote. “We are striking not only to demand our immediate freedom, but to ask for justice for the countless, thousands, unnamed yet not forgotten men and women who have suffered the same fate as ours or worse, and have been imprisoned in Iran, having committed no crime.”
There are currently at least 11 dual and foreign nationals or Iranian citizens currently imprisoned in Iran as of December 2019, according to the CHRI.