The identity of a University of Melbourne academic sentenced to 10 years’ jail in Iran has been confirmed as Middle East politics specialist Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert.
Moore-Gilbert was working as a lecturer and researcher for the university’s Asia Institute specialising in Middle East politics before she was imprisoned in the Islamic Republic in October 2018.
Her identity had been kept secret until Saturday in the fear it may harm her prospects of release, however it was revealed in a Persian language blog and subsequently confirmed by her family and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Moore-Gilbert has received only limited consular visits since her arrest and distraught family members have not been granted access.
Her family issued a statement thanking the Australian government and the University of Melbourne for their support, during what has been a “distressing and sensitive” time.
“We believe that the best chance of securing Kylie’s safe return is through diplomatic channels,” they said.
“We will not be making any further comment and would like to request that our privacy – and that of our wider family and friends – is respected at this time.
She is being held in the same facility as Australian travel bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin who were arrested after allegedly flying a drone near a military zone near the Iranian capital. The three are being held in Evin Prison, a facility often used to house the country’s political prisoners. Former detainees have described it as a frightening place where foreigners are often kept in extreme isolation.
Amnesty International’s Eilidh Macpherson said this week she was concerned the Australian detainees may have been subjected to “serious human rights violations, including denial of access to a lawyer and even torture or other ill-treatment”.
The exact charges Moore-Gilbert was facing have not been confirmed.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed to Parliament this week that she had discussed the imprisonment of the three Australians with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.