British-Australian woman detained in Iran for ‘espionage’ is being transferred to a notorious prison ‘as a punishment’
A British-Australian academic has been moved ‘as a punishment’ to a notorious Iranian prison known for using bleach baths to control head lice infestations.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Cambridge-educated teacher, was transferred from Evin Prison in Tehran to Qarchak Prison earlier this week, according to the Center for Supporters of Human Rights.
Reza Khandan, the husband of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who was incarcerated in Evin prison after speaking out on human rights issues, posted online that authorities had moved Dr. Moore-Gilbert for “criminal reasons.”
Mr. Khandan said she could send him a message saying “Conditions are very bad, I can’t eat anything, I’m very disappointed, I’m so depressed.”
Located about 53 kilometers south of Evin, Qarchak is home to prisoners convicted of murder and drug offenses, Khandan wrote in a Facebook post.
The University of Melbourne teacher was arrested in September 2018 while attending an educational conference in the country and later convicted of espionage.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Cambridge-educated academic, was moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Qarchak Prison earlier this week, according to The Australian
The exterior of the infamous Qarchak prison in Iran, where Doctor Moore-Gilbert was transferred
She was reported as “suspicious” to the Iranian revolutionary guards by fellow delegates from the conference and as someone she interviewed and arrested at Tehran Airport as she prepared to fly out of the country, the Guardian said.
She previously published work on the 2011 Arab uprisings and authoritarian governments.
She spent two years in Evin Prison before moving to a prison described as one of the “worst female prisons in the world.”
Letters smuggled out of prison and published in January showed the teacher’s fear of her mental health.
She said, “I take psychiatric drugs, but these 10 months spent here have severely damaged my mental health.
“I still don’t get calls and visits, and I’m afraid that if I stay in this highly restrictive detention unit, my mental and emotional state will further deteriorate.”
After two years’ imprisonment in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Dr. Moore-Gilbert was transferred to Qarchak prison (photo), convicted of human rights abuses
She also seemed to suggest that she had been given the opportunity to become a spy.
“I’m not a spy. I’ve never been a spy, and I’m not interested in working for a spy agency in any country, ”she wrote.
Coronavirus is said to spread within prison and sources say social distance is impossible.
Dr. Moore-Gilbert has been in solitary confinement and had several hunger strikes. He is said to have been beaten for trying to comfort new prisoners by passing notes and writing them on prison walls.
Dr. Moore-Gilbert was waiting at Tehran airport to fly home to Melbourne when she was being held by Iranian authorities.
The dual UK-Australian citizen is sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for espionage.
She alleged that Iran was trying to recruit her as a spy and that the authorities sentenced her to two convictions, one with a 13-month sentence and the other with a 10-year sentence.
Both Evin Prison and Qarchak Prison are controlled by the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Ordinary prisoners are being held in Qarchak prison. It is overcrowded and some are dangerous, ” said Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, according to the BBC.
He added, “They are not happy with her resilience and her refusal to cooperate.”
Dr. Moore-Gilbert (pictured) was arrested at an educational conference in September 2018 and later convicted of espionage
Qarchak Prison was designated in December 2019 by the United States Department of State as responsible for “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
“It is known for unbearable conditions, including regular attacks and improper behavior by prison guards towards women, chronic water shortages, unsanitary living spaces,” said a statement from the State Department.
The prison is said to have about 2,000 prisoners, many political prisoners, but only 600 beds and head lice are checked by shaving the woman’s hair followed by bleaches.
Last month, Dr. Moore-Gilbert is reportedly beaten by guards and heavily drugged after encouraging other prisoners to sing and hum in their cells.
Dr. Moore-Gilbert (pictured) recently lost an appeal against her 10-year sentence
There were reports that she had committed suicide, but her family denied it.
“She has vehemently denied reports of suicide or torture,” they said.
Given her situation, she appears to be in good health. We love her and miss her. We ask you to continue to respect Kylie’s and our privacy as we focus on getting her home. ‘
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade previously said that Dr. Moore-Gilbert was still a top priority.
“The case of Dr. Moore-Gilbert is one of our top priorities, including for our embassy officials in Tehran,” the statement said.
“We do not accept the charges on which Dr. Moore-Gilbert has been convicted and continue to make every effort to return her to Australia as soon as possible.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has repeatedly raised the matter with her Iranian foreign minister Jawad Zarif, a spokeswoman said.
It comes after letters smuggled out of Dr. Moore-Gilbert’s cell into Evin prison, and seen by The Times and The Guardian, showed that she begged to leave the restraining unit where she had served in solitary confinement for periods.
Khandan has spoken about a number of political prisoners after his wife spent 38 years in prison for political reasons in 2019.
‘[Ms Moore-Gilbert’s situation] is absolutely unbearable … we don’t know what has happened to her in the past two years, ‘he said earlier.