U.K.-Australian Academic Moved To Notorious Iranian Prison

Australia's government has warned Iranian authorities that they are responsible for the "safety and well-being" of a jailed British-Australian woman after she was moved to a prison outside Tehran.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Melbourne University, was jailed about two years ago and is serving a 10-year sentence on espionage charges, which she and Australia have rejected.

In a statement on July 28, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Iran had confirmed earlier reports from human rights activists that she had been moved from Tehran’s Evin prison to the Qarchak facility, south of the Iranian capital.

The department said it was "urgently seeking access" to the academic, adding: "Dr Moore-Gilbert's case is one of the Australian government's highest priorities, including for our embassy officials in Tehran.”

In the past, a number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience have claimed they had been "exiled" to Qarchak prison as punishment for not "cooperating" with the authorities.

Conditions there have been described by former prisoners as abysmal, and recent reports indicate the jail has had a cluster of coronavirus cases.

The Australian ambassador visited Moore-Gilbert at Evin prison recently and had been in telephone contact with her over the past months, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In letters smuggled out of the prison and published in British media in January, Moore-Gilbert wrote that she had rejected an offer to work with the intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

She said she had been held in an "extremely restrictive detention ward" and that she feared for her mental health.

With reporting by AFP and the BBC