LONDON: A British-Australian academic being held in a notorious Iranian prison hit by a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak does not have enough food or water, a UK newspaper reported on Friday.
Cambridge-educated Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been locked up in Tehran for nearly two years after being arrested at the capital’s main airport in September 2018 on accusations of espionage, “despite speaking little to no Farsi,” said The Times article.
The lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was recently transferred to Iran’s Qarchak jail, which has been branded by human rights groups as the worst prison in the country.
According to a report by human rights group Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, the jail is experiencing a severe COVID-19 outbreak, with infected and healthy prisoners still being mixed together.
The report also states that food portions have been heavily cut, forcing inmates to resort to their own means of purchasing food and water.
“If the reports are true, then it is extremely disappointing that the Australian government has told the public that Kylie is ‘well,’ yet has not managed to even secure her access to safe food and water,” said Dara Conduit, one of her colleagues.
“I call on (Australian) foreign minister (Marise) Payne to urgently investigate these reports, and to demand both in public and behind closed doors that Kylie’s conditions are improved. It (the Australian government) must hold Iran to account on this. Access to safe water is a human right.”
However, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “Australia’s ambassador to Iran made a consular visit to Dr. Moore-Gilbert in Qarchak prison on Aug. 2. Dr. Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities, and books.
“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.”
The total number of recorded cases of COVID-19 in Iran currently stands at 354,764, with 20,376 deaths and 305,866 recoveries.