Iran Insists Imprisoned Australian Academic Must 'Serve Her Time'

Iran says that an Australian academic being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on espionage charges must serve out her sentence and that the country will not submit to "propaganda."

The remarks on December 28 came after Australian university lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Iranian-born French researcher Fariba Adelkhah reportedly began a hunger strike on December 24 to call for the release of all researchers and political prisoners in Iran who have been “unjustly imprisoned on trumped-up charges.”

Moore-Gilbert earlier in the week lost an appeal against a 10-year prison sentence.

Their protests were reported by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and the Paris Institute of Political Studies' research center CERI, where Adelkhah works.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi on December 28 said that "Iran will not submit to political games and propaganda" in response to "certain reports" in Australian media.

He added that the Australian woman, "like any other individual with a sentence, will serve her time while enjoying all legal rights."

Musavi added that Iran would not forget Australia's "illegal" treatment of Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian woman arrested in 2017 over violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Ghodskani, who gave birth in Australian custody before being extradited to the United States, was sentenced in the United States for violating sanctions against Iran but was released in September and allowed to return home.

Australia expressed "deep concern" over the imprisonment of Moore-Gilbert.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne called for her to be treated "fairly, humanely, and in accordance with international norms".

AFP reported on December 27 that France had summoned Iran's ambassador over the "intolerable" detention of the academics, citing the Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said it had expressed "grave concern" and the ambassador "was reminded of France's demand that Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal are released without delay and that the Iranian authorities show total transparency over their situation."

Adelkhah, an anthropologist who has authored several books on Iran, was reportedly detained in June on espionage charges.

Marchal, another researcher from the Paris Institute of Political Studies, is also incarcerated in Iran.

With reporting by AFP, AP and dpa