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Family of Australian imprisoned in Iranian jail for allegedly spying give up on her release

The family of an Australian academic jailed in Iran’s ‘most dangerous and worst prison’ for allegedly ‘spying’ is growing increasingly concerned she will not be released.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a University of Melbourne lecturer, was transferred to Qarchak prison in Tehran’s east – infamous for killings and torture – after about two years in Evin, another notorious jail.

She was arrested at Tehran Airport in September 2018 while visiting an educational conference in the country and later convicted of espionage. 

Dr Moore-Gilbert is understood to be serving a 10-year sentence, and Foreign Minister Marise Payne is continuing to push for her release.

‘She is arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced on charges that we don’t accept,’ Senator Payne said on Thursday.

‘We will continue to seek her release from Iranian authorities. I know this is an impossibly difficult situation for her and her family.’

Family and friends of Dr Moore-Gilbert are growing increasingly concerned the diplomatic strategy to secure her release has failed, and the Australian government has resigned itself to her incarceration.

They cited reports she did not have enough money to buy bottled water or suitable food and questioned whether water available to her was clean.   

‘We remind the government that Kylie’s dietary intolerances also means that standard prison food will make her sick,’ family and friends told AAP.

‘Today marks one month since we sounded the alarm over Kylie’s transfer to Qarchak prison, and we see no evidence that the government has secured any improvement in her conditions.’ 

Australia’s ambassador to Iran visited Dr Moore-Gilbert in jail earlier this month.   

Dr Moore-Gilbert’s transfer was confirmed in July when Reza Khandan, the husband of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was imprisoned in Evin after speaking out on human rights issues, posted authorities had moved the woman for ‘punishment reasons’ online.

Mr Khandan said the dual UK-Australian national was able to send a message to him saying: ‘The conditions are very bad I cannot eat anything, I am very disappointed, I am so very depressed’. 

The Evin and Qarchak prisions are controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence Organization. 

Qarchak prison was in December 2019 labelled by the U.S. Department of State as being responsible for ‘gross violations of internationally recognised human rights’. 

‘It is known for unbearable conditions, including regular assaults and inappropriate behavior of prison guards towards women, chronic lack of water, unsanitary living spaces,’ a statement from the Department of State read. 

The prison reportedly has about 2,000 inmates – many political prisoners – but only 600 beds.

Head lice is controlled by shaving the hair of the woman followed by bleach baths.

Ms Moore-Gilbert was reportedly beaten by guards and heavily drugged in June after encouraging other prisoners to sing and hum in their cells. 

There had been reports she had attempted suicide but her family denied these. 

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