Family of jailed Australian academic ‘reassured’ by ambassador’s visit

The Australian ambassador to Iran has visited jailed academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert in her new prison, reporting she is well and has access to food and medicine.

Dr Moore-Gilbert's family released a statement through the Australian government saying it had been "reassured" by the consular visit on Sunday.

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert was recently moved from a prison in the capital, Tehran, to a jail in the desert, heightening concerns about her welfare.

Friends and colleagues of the University of Melbourne lecturer have grown increasingly concerned about her welfare after she was moved to a notorious prison in the desert.

The Cambridge-educated academic, who has been sentenced to 10 years' jail for espionage, had been held in Evin Prison in Iran's capital for nearly two years before suddenly being moved to Qarchak women’s prison a little over a week ago. Qarchak, in the desert east of Tehran, holds political prisoners, serious drug offenders and murderers and has been described as overcrowded.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australian ambassador to Iran, Lyndall Sachs, made a consular visit to Dr Moore-Gilbert on Sunday.

"Dr Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities and books," the DFAT spokesman said. "We will continue to seek regular consular access to Dr Moore-Gilbert.

"We believe that the best chance of resolving Dr Moore-Gilbert's case lies through the diplomatic path and not through the media. Dr Moore-Gilbert and her family have requested privacy."

Friends and colleagues of Dr Moore-Gilbert, along with federal MPs from both major parties, have raised concerns about DFAT's handling of the case, suggesting there should be a more public campaign to raise the profile of her plight.

In a statement released through DFAT, Dr Moore-Gilbert's family said it was thankful Dr Moore-Gilbert had "many strong supporters and friends who love and care about her safe return", but it believed her best chance at release was through diplomatic avenues. It was in close contact with DFAT and the Australian government.

"We remain committed to getting our Kylie home as soon as possible and this is our top and only priority," the family said. "We ask that you continue to respect both Kylie's and our privacy while we concentrate on getting her home."

'We believe that the best chance of resolving Dr Moore-Gilbert's case lies through the diplomatic path and not through the media.'

Dr Moore-Gilbert, who most recently worked as a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in September 2018 while at an educational conference and later convicted of espionage. She has denied all charges against her.

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