Officials said a British-Australian woman serving a 10-year sentence in Iran on espionage charges has been transferred to a notorious desert prison.
Lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert at Melbourne University has been in jail since September 2018.
He was tried in secret and vehemently denied all the allegations against him.
The Australian government has said it blames Iran for Ms. Moore-Gilbert’s “safety and wellbeing” and is demanding “immediate access” to it.
“The case of Dr Moore-Gilbert is one of the top priorities of the Australian government, including our embassy officials in Tehran,” Australia’s Department of State and Trade said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement said that Iran confirmed earlier reports by human rights activists that he had been taken to the infamous Karkak prison.
The prison is sometimes used as a punishment for Iranian political prisoners and the terms have been described as abusive by former prisoners.
What is Ms. Moore-Gilbert’s position?
According to a friend, Ms. Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Middle East politics, had spent nearly two years sleeping on the floor of a cell at Evin Prison in the capital, Tehran.
She has been on solitary confinement and several hunger strikes, and is said to have been beaten up to try to comfort new prisoners by passing them notes and writing on prison walls.
On Tuesday, the husband of British-Iranian charity activist Nazneen Zagari-Ratcliffe – who was jailed in Iran in 2016, alleging that he has always denied it – said that Qaraq was a place where “[Iranian] The officers sent women political prisoners when they wanted to break them. ”
Richard Ratcliffe said, “It’s in the middle of the desert with clean flowing water, very poor food and intoxicants are mixed with bread and rice, so you can wait for months.”
Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been on hunger strike in solidarity with Ms. Moore-Gilbert.
Hadi Ghami, director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, said, “Karch prison is the place where ordinary prisoners are kept. It is crowded and some of them are dangerous.”
Referring to an earlier statement by Ms. Moore-Gilbert that she had refused the offer of independence in exchange for becoming a spy for Iran, she said: “They are not happy with her and deny her cooperation . “
A family friend told BBC World Affairs correspondent Carolyn Hawley that Ms Moore-Gilbert “feels abandoned”.
“The Australian government does not appear to be very active – it needs to buy basic provisions for itself in prison due to lack of money,” he said.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Ambassador recently visited Ms. Moore-Gilbert in the Avin prison and had been in telephone contact with her for the past few months.
What has he said about his imprisonment?
Ms Moore-Gilbert told an Iranian human rights activist earlier this week in a phone call that she had not spoken to her family for almost a month.
Reza Khandan, the husband of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasreen Sotoudeh, said in a Facebook post that Ms. Moore-Gilbert was “in a very bad condition”.
She wrote that he told her: “I can’t eat anything, I don’t know, I’m so disappointed. I’m so depressed.”
- The fate of dual citizens jailed in Iran is not known
In letters smuggled from Tehran’s Evin prison in January, the lecturer said she was “never a detective” and feared for her mental health. He said he rejected an offer from Iran to become a spy.
“I am not a spy. I have never been a spy, and I have no hobby of working for a detective organization in any country.”
She also said that she feared that her health had deteriorated significantly.
“I think I’m in the midst of a serious psychological problem,” she wrote, deteriorating from “a ban on any phone call with my family”.
Ms. Moore-Gilbert is adamant that she is “an innocent woman … imprisoned for a crime I have not committed”.
The Cambridge-educated academic was traveling on an Australian passport and was detained at Tehran Airport in 2018 as he tried to leave after a conference.
Last year, British-Australian woman Jolie King and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin were released on charges of flying a drone without a permit after going to prison in Tehran.