Moore-Gilbert’s Letter to Australian PM: “Do Whatever it Takes to Get Me Out”
Melboune University Scholar’s Open Letter Describes:
- “Psychological Torture,” Prolonged Solitary Confinement
- Unjust Arrest by Revolutionary Guards to “Lure” Her Husband to Iran
- 10-Year Prison Sentence on Espionage Conviction Without “Shred of Real Evidence”
- No Improvement Six Months After Urging Australian Government to “Do More”
In a letter obtained by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), an Australian academic imprisoned in Tehran since September 2018 said her government had done little to improve her “intolerable conditions” nine months after she urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help her.
In the letter, which has never before been published in its complete form, Moore-Gilbert, a scholar of the Middle East from the University of Melbourne, begged Morrison to take “immediate action” to free her.
CHRI has also obtained Moore-Gilbert’s post-script to the letter, which she wrote before launching a joint hunger strike in the Women’s Ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison with fellow imprisoned academic Fariba Adelkhah on Christmas Eve.
Moore-Gilbert “was in tears and looked desperate” 48 hours into the strike, a source who requested anonymity for security reasons told CHRI.
Following is Moore-Gilbert’s unedited letter sent to Morrison in June 2019, followed by her post-script written in December.
Letter by Kylie Moore-Gilbert dated June 1, 2019
Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
In August of last year, on the day you put yourself forward and were elected by your parliamentary colleagues as leader of the Liberal Party and Australia’s new Prime Minister, I boarded a flight from Melbourne to Dubai, with my final destination the Iranian capital Tehran.
Nine months later I sat alone in a 2 x 3m cell in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, deciphering the Persian language “Ettelabt” newspaper. Through periods of painstaking translation, I learned that a “pirouzi maiajazeh”, a miracle victory, had occurred in Australia, and that you had been re-elected, this time by the public, as Prime Minister. I offer you my warmest congratulations.
Three weeks after that day last August, which proved to be fateful for us both, I was arrested by the intelligence arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, after checking into a return flight back to Australia.
I am a scholar of the Middle East and a lecturer at Melbourne University, and came to Iran to take part in a university program on Islam for foreign academics, as well as naively to conduct some research interviews. Unfortunately, one of my academic colleagues on this program and one of my interview subjects flagged me as suspicious to the Revolutionary Guards. As a result, I have been thrown into the high security unit of the Revolutionary Guards’ private prison within Evin and have been subjected to grievous violations of my legal and human rights, including psychological torture and spending prolonged periods of time in solitary confinement.
Alone in a country whose language, culture and customs I do not understand, without friends, family or emotional support, I face being tried by a biased and corrupt Revolutionary Court for the ludicrous and wholly unsubstantiated charge of espionage. An innocent woman facing a lengthy prison sentence for a crime for which there is not even a shred of real evidence.
The Revolutionary Guard have imprisoned me in these terrible conditions for over 9 months in order to extort me both personally and my government. They have also attempted to use me as a hostage in a diabolical plot to lure my husband, an Australian permanent resident (and soon to be now citizen) into joining me in an Iranian prison. There is no hope for a fair trial. Indeed a guilty verdict has been predetermined in a legal system wholly controlled by the Revolutionary Guards. I came to Iran as an academic researcher and consider myself a political prisoner.
The Australian government thus far has been able to do very little to improve my prison conditions, and has been unable to secure consular access for almost 4 months. I am writing to you to beseech your government to do more, to make difficult diplomatic decisions if necessary. Yes, you are dealing with a state within a state, but even the Revolutionary Guard are not immune to external political (and particularly economic) pressures. A semi-state actor in a country which Australia has supposedly friendly relations has violated the rights of an innocent Australian citizen, an ordeal which has extended for almost the same length of time that you have occupied the office of Prime Minister.
I beg you to act faster to bring this terrible trauma that myself and my family must live through day after day to a resolution. The Australian Foreign Ministry needs to consider whether the actions that have been taken against myself and my husband by an entity backed and supported by the Iranian state are those of a friendly nation.
Please I beg of you to do whatever it takes to get me out. I know that you are a religious man, and I ask that until that much longed for day of freedom arrives, you remember me and my family in your prayers.
Dr. Kylie Moore –Gilbert
University of Melbourne
Dated: 1 June 2019
Post-Script written by Kylie Moore-Gilbert in December 2019:
Six months have passed since the date of the above letter. During this time I have remained in the same prison without any improvement in my intolerable conditions.
Over the past 9 months I have been completely banned from any contact with my family, with the exception of a 3 minute phone call (all with my father), which was only granted after I took desperate measures which put my own life at risk.
I have undertaken 5 hunger strikes as my only means to raise my voice, but to no avail. As predicted, I have now received a conviction of 10 years in prison, and my appeal court has failed.
I beg of you, Prime Minister Morrison, to take immediate action, as my physical and mental health continues to deteriorate with every additional day that I remain imprisoned in these conditions.
*This article was modified on January 2, 2020, to note that Kylie Moore-Gilbert was arrested in September 2018 according to her letter, not October 2018.