Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at Melbourne University, has been in jail since September 2018. She strongly denies all the charges against her.
She spent almost two years sleeping on the floor in a cell 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.
Now she has reportedly been moved to the notorious Qarchak prison. The jail is sometimes used as punishment for Iranian political prisoners. Conditions have been described by former inmates as abysmal.
Ms Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Middle East politics, told an Iranian human rights activist in a phone call earlier this week that she had not spoken to her family for about a month.
Reza Khandan, the husband of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, said in a Facebook post that Ms Moore-Gilbert was in “a very bad condition”. He wrote that she had told him: “I can’t eat anything, I don’t know, I’m so disappointed. I’m so very depressed.”
In letters smuggled out of Tehran’s Evin prison in January, the lecturer said she had “never been a spy” and feared for her mental health. She said she had rejected an offer from Iran to become a spy. “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.” She also said she feared her health had “deteriorated significantly”. “I think I am in the midst of a serious psychological problem,” she wrote, worsened by “the ban on having any phone calls with my family”.
Ms Moore-Gilbert remains adamant that she is “an innocent woman… imprisoned for a crime I have not committed”. The Cambridge-educated academic was travelling on an Australian passport and was detained at Tehran airport in 2018 as she tried to leave following a conference.
She was tried in secret last year for espionage.