LONDON: The family of British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert have said they “remain strong and are far from giving up hope” as hundreds of her friends and family marked her second anniversary in Iranian detention on Sunday.
Moore-Gilbert was seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps after attending a conference in Iran, and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars on espionage charges that she denies.
Friends, colleagues and other supporters of Moore-Gilbert, who is a prolific runner, staged “Run for Kylie” events across Australia on Sunday to mark the anniversary of her detention. They also plan to hold a vigil outside Sydney Town Hall on Monday evening.
“For those who also know and love Kylie, they will recognize her fortitude and strength. We know this strength remains with her throughout this ordeal,” her family said in a statement.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne said: “We do not accept the charges upon which Dr. Moore-Gilbert was convicted, and want to see her returned to Australia as soon as possible.”
Last month, Moore-Gilbert was moved from the notorious Evin prison — where she had faced months of solitary confinement — to Qarchak, which is widely regarded as the worst women’s prison in Iran, and is known as a site of extrajudicial killings, torture and other rights violations.
She is watched closely in Qarchak by two fellow prisoners, and her contact with the outside world has been severely constrained by this.
She has previously said her mental health is suffering in Qarchak and she could not eat. “I feel so very hopeless … I am so depressed,” she said.
Moore-Gilbert is an expert in Islamic studies and Middle East politics, and was attending an academic conference in the Shiite holy city of Qom in September 2018 before her arrest.
She was convicted following a secret trial, and no evidence to support the charges was released.
Meanwhile, last week Tehran announced that British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe would face additional charges as her initial jail sentence for spying was drawing to an end.
This prompted widespread condemnation, and accusations from her family that her detention is politically motivated and that she is being “held hostage.”