Why and when was Kylie jailed?
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, British-Australian woman and a lecturer at Melbourne University, has been in jail since September 2018 serving a 10-year sentence in Iran for espionage. She was tried in secret and strongly denies all the charges against her.
The Australian government has said it holds Iran responsible for Ms Moore-Gilbert’s “safety and well-being” and is “urgently seeking access” to her.
“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 in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement added that Iran had confirmed earlier reports from human rights activists that she had been moved to the notorious Qarchak prison.
The Qarchak Prison
The lecturer, who fears for her mental health according to letters smuggled out of jail, is now in a desert facility. She had spent almost two years sleeping on the floor of a cell at Evin prison in the capital, Tehran, according to a friend. She has been in solitary confinement and on several hunger strikes, and she is said to have been beaten for trying to comfort new prisoners by passing notes and writing to them on prison walls.
Cambridge-educated Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Middle East scholar, had been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison for nearly two years, before her sudden move three days ago to Qarchak women’s prison, south-east of Tehran.
In a phone call with Reza Khandan, the husband of jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Moore-Gilbert said she felt hopeless and isolated.
“I can’t eat anything. I feel so very hopeless,” Moore-Gilbert said, speaking Persian on the call. “I am so depressed. I don’t have any phone card to call. I’ve asked the prison officers but they didn’t give me a phone card. I [was last able to] call my parents about one month ago.”
Moore-Gilbert is reportedly in a quarantine section of the prison for new inmates.
Isolated and overcrowded, Qarchak has a reputation as one of the most hostile prisons in the country. Last month, the US state department listed Qarchak as an entity responsible for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.
The Human rights report
A report by the Human Rights Activists News Agency in Marchdetailed acts of violence, including torture and rape, as well as lack of medical services.
Coronavirus is understood to be present within the prison. Sources say social distancing is impossible, and access to soap is often limited.
Like Evin prison’s Ward 2A, where Moore-Gilbert had been held previously, Qarchak prison is controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Some have said Qarchak prison is notoriously used to “exile” prisoners considered difficult, or whose cases are acutely potentially sensitive, while other sources said the transfer could be seen as potential movement in her case, and not designed as a punitive measure.
Statements from Kylie
The lecturer was arrested in September 2018 after attending an academic conference, at which she was invited to speak, in the city of Qom, around 90 miles south of Tehran.
She was reported as “suspicious” to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards by fellow conference delegates and someone she was interviewing and arrested at Tehran airport as she prepared to fly out of the country. (source: The Guradian)
- “I’m taking psychiatric medications, but these 10 months that I have spent here have gravely damaged my mental health”.
- “I am still denied phone calls and visitations, and I am afraid that my mental and emotional state may further deteriorate if I remain in this extremely restrictive detention ward.”
- “I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest to work for a spying organisation in any country”
- “I can’t eat anything. I feel so very hopeless,” Moore-Gilbert said, speaking Persian on the call. “I am so depressed. I don’t have any phone card to call. I’ve asked the prison officers but they didn’t give me a phone card. I [was last able to] call my parents about one month ago.”
Inmates, who include political prisoners, are not separated according to their crimes, campaign group Women Are Force For Change said.
Ms Moore-Gilbert has been held in Evin, the same jail as British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, after reportedly being given a 10-year sentence for spying.
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