Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to notorious Tehran jail

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to notorious Tehran jail
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a University of Melbourne scholar on the Middle East, is serving a 10-year sentence, in the Iranian prison system, on charges of espionage. (AP Photo)
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Updated 30 October 2020

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to notorious Tehran jail

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to notorious Tehran jail
  • During a previous stint at Evin, Moore-Gilbert reported being held in restrictive conditions and needing psychiatric medications for “gravely damaged” mental health
  • Friends believe she is now being held in the same ward as before, a facility controlled by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps

SYDNEY: An Australian academic held in Iran for more than two years has been returned to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, friends said Friday, prompting fresh concern about her wellbeing.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert — who is serving a 10-year sentence on charges of espionage — had disappeared inside Iran’s prison system a week ago, sparking frantic efforts to learn her whereabouts.
“I’m relieved that the Australian government has finally managed to locate Kylie six days after she went missing,” friend and fellow Middle East expert Dara Conduit told AFP. “But make no mistake: this is not a win for Kylie.”
Conditions at Evin are believed to be marginally better than Moore-Gilbert’s previous jail at Qarchak — a women’s facility that has been blacklisted under UN human rights sanctions and is notorious for the ill-treatment of political prisoners.
During a previous stint at Evin, Moore-Gilbert reported being held in restrictive conditions and needing psychiatric medications for “gravely damaged” mental health.
Friends believe she is now being held in the same ward as before, a facility controlled by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Australia’s foreign ministry has said securing her release is an “absolute priority,” but was forced to admit this week that her whereabouts were unknown.
“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,” the ministry said after ambassador Lyndall Sachs was able to visit her in Qarchak Prison on October 19.
Throughout Moore-Gilbert’s internment, friends and family have become increasingly critical of what they say is Australia’s ineffective diplomatic approach.
According to Conduit: “Not one iota of progress has been made in her case, despite the government’s assurances that Kylie’s case is under control.”
She called Moore-Gilbert’s transfer back to Evin “an utter indictment of the Australian government’s failure on Kylie’s case.”
“After 778 days, she is back at square one in the prison in which she was originally held.”
Moore-Gilbert was reportedly arrested at Tehran airport by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in September 2018 after attending a conference in Qoms.
She is just one of several Westerners being held in Iran on national security grounds.
Negotiations with Tehran are notoriously difficult, with governments and families forced to decide if quiet discussions are less likely to antagonize captors, often against a fraught geopolitical backdrop.
Iran’s complex political and judicial system — which sees hard-liners, reformists and myriad state institutions vying for influence — can make things more complex still.


Lebanon investigates death of former customs official

Updated 6 sec ago

Lebanon investigates death of former customs official

Lebanon investigates death of former customs official
  • Col. Munir Abu Rjeili was found dead, in his home in Qartaba, some 40 km northeast of Beirut, from a blow to the head
  • Leading Druze politician Walid Jumblatt questioned whether there was a link with the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut port

BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities are investigating the killing of a retired customs officer in what a leading politician described as a “terrible incident.”
Col. Munir Abu Rjeili was found dead in his home on Wednesday in Qartaba, some 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Beirut, with a blow to the head, a security source said.
Leading Druze politician Walid Jumblatt asked on Twitter on Thursday what was behind the killing. He questioned whether there was a link with the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut port that killed about 200 people and devastated swathes of the capital.
“Is this terrible incident to obstruct any serious investigation into the case of the explosion at Beirut port?” Jumblatt wrote.
But a senior interior ministry source said: “So far, no link has been found between the port and the murder.”
Abu Rjeili’s career in Lebanese customs included leading a Beirut division that counters overland smuggling, serving at the airport and heading a division of the Higher Customs Council, according to CV sent by a relative and lawyer, Joseph Khalil.
Abu Rjeili had not been summoned for questioning in the investigation in to the Beirut blast probe and had not served at the port, the source said.
Khalil, the lawyer, said the family was waiting for the results of the investigation.
Four months since the explosion, Lebanese are still awaiting the final results of the investigation, after authorities promised a full and swift probe.
President Michel Aoun last month called for the acceleration of the investigation.
The first warning about the cargo that blew up in Beirut port came in 2014 from another late Lebanese customs officer, Col. Joseph Skaf. Skaf’s family believe his death in 2017 was murder, possibly connected to his long career as a customs officer fighting criminality and drug smuggling.