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Australia Backs Jailed Academic Who Alleges Mistreatment In Iran

SYDNEY– The Australian government on Wednesday said that the case of British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert who is detained in Iran was a “very high priority.”

The statement comes following the publication of one of the letters in which the expert said that she suffered abuse and also was offered to become a spy for Iran.

However, the Human Rights Watch said that the Australian government’s strategy was weak and urged to intensify their efforts for the release of Moore-Gilbert, who was detained in Tehran in 2018 and sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of espionage.

In a statement sent to EFE, the Australian government said that the best way to ensure her release was, “through diplomatic channels and not through the media.”

It further added that Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne had raised Moore-Gilbert’s case with her Iranian counterpart Mohamad Javad Zarif in writing as well during face to face meetings, including the recent one in New Delhi on 16 January.

“We continue to work towards her release, we are doing everything possible in relation to the conditions of her imprisonment,” a spokesperson of the Australian foreign affairs ministry told EFE.

Moore-Gilbert, an Islamic studies expert at the University of Melbourne is being held in isolation at Tehran’s Evin prison, which is under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

On Tuesday, the center for human rights in Iran published a series of letters written by Moore-Gilbert between July and December 2019 in which she mentioned the lack of access to food, contact with the outside world and an adequate legal defense.

In the letters, the academic also said that she rejected Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ offer to become a spy for Tehran.

“I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest to work for a spying organization in any country. When I leave Iran, I want to be a free woman and live a free life, not under the shadow of extortion and threats,” said the academic.

Australia Director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson told EFE that they expect a “more forceful approach from the Australian government. I think the response from the Australian government has been quite weak. Perhaps there is a lot going on behind the closed doors. But the fact is that she remains under these very restrictive conditions in prison for more than a year now.”

“Our concerns are about her treatment in prison and the fact that she hasn’t received a fair trial. She finds herself effectively a hostage of the government of Iran,” she said and added that Moore-Gilbert should at least be moved to a women’s cell.

Talking about the letters, Pearson said: “The letters are very heartbreaking. They paint a very sad picture of the horrible condition of Evin prison that Kylie has had to endure all alone for more than a year. She has been effectively cut off from the outside world, she has been denied even the phone calls with her family (...) there have been various process violations (legal) with her case.”

The British-Australian expert was detained in September 2018 at Tehran airport when she was leaving the country after an academic conference in Iran. She had entered the country with an Australian passport.


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