A British-Australian academic detained in Iran has been transferred to Qarchak prison, the country’s notorious desert jail, officials said Tuesday.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Melbourne University, was sentenced in September 2018 to 10 years on espionage charges. She has denied the allegations.
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“Dr. Moore-Gilbert’s case is one of the Australian government’s highest priorities, including for our embassy officials in Tehran,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Tuesday in a statement obtained by the BBC.
The statement also said Iran confirmed earlier reports by human rights activists that Moore-Gilbert had been transferred to Qarchak prison.
Reza Khandan, whose wife, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, was imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison with Moore-Gilbert before her transfer, said she was moved for “punishment,” Sky News reported.
Khandan said inmates in Qarchak include those convicted of murder and drug offenses. The prison, notorious for its poor conditions and overcrowding, also holds Iran’s political prisoners, according to human rights activists.
In one of a series of letters spanning June 2019 to December 2019 that were smuggled out of Tehran’s Evin prison, Moore-Gilbert wrote that she refused an offer to spy for Iran in exchange for her release.
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“I am not a spy,” she wrote. “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.”
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