Australia: British-Australian woman in Iran prison 'is well'

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's ambassador to Iran has visited a British-Australian academic who was convicted of espionage before being moved recently to a notorious Iranian prison, and found that she “is well,” Australia’s government said Tuesday.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison in September 2018 and sentenced to 10 years.

Concerns for her well-being escalated with news last week that she had been moved to Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran.

Australia sought urgent consular access and its ambassador to Iran, Lyndall Sachs, visited Moore-Gilbert in Qarchak Prison on Sunday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or DFAT, said in a statement.

“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."

Moore-Gilbert’s family said they were reassured by the ambassador’s prison visit.

“We remain committed to getting our Kylie home as soon as possible and this is our top and only priority,” a family statement said.

“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,” the statement added.

In 2018, Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran airport while trying to leave Iran after attending an academic conference.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran, a U.S.-based organization, said last week that Moore-Gilbert was being held with violent criminals under harsh conditions.

Reza Khandan, husband of human rights lawyer and Evin Prison inmate Nasrin Sotoudeh, posted on social media last week that Moore-Gilbert had been transferred “as a form of punishment.”

Australia describes Moore-Gilbert’s case as one of its highest priorities.

Moore-Gilbert has gone on hunger strikes during her time in custody and pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her during almost two years in custody.

She wrote to Australia's prime minister last year that she has been “subjected to grievous violations of my legal and human rights, including psychological torture and spending prolonged periods of time in solitary confinement.”