Jailed Aussie in Iran to PM: ‘Get me out’
Exclusive: Smuggled letters from Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who is jailed in Iran's notorious Evin prison, reveal she will start a new hunger strike today (Christmas Eve).
Dr Moore-Gilbert, who has spent 15 months locked up as a political prisoner, pleads with Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help in the notes, seen by News Corp Australia.
"Please I beg of you to do whatever it takes to get me out," she wrote.
"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."
The two letters written, inside the prison in Tehran, reveal Dr Moore-Gilbert's distress.
She has been stripped of contact with her family for nine months except for a three-minute phone call with her father.
The University of Melbourne Islamic studies expert was arrested after she checked in to a flight back to Australia after attending a conference in Iran in September last year (2018), according to her letter.
One of the Iranians at the conference alerted Iran's Revolutionary Guards to her presence.
News Corp Australia revealed on Sunday that Dr Moore-Gilbert had lost an appeal to her 10-year jail sentence.
She has engaged in five previous hunger strikes but a source said they were more concerned for her welfare this time as she planned to refuse food and water, which could lead to serious health problems within days.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, who graduated as dux of All Saints College in Bathurst, NSW, in 2005, has spent much of her sentence in solitary confinement.
Her letter was first written in June but she was unable to get it out.
The graduate of Cambridge University and dual UK national added a post script this month.
"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," she wrote.
"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 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."
A French researcher, Dr Fariba Adelkhah, from the Sciences Po university in Paris, who is also jailed in Evin prison, will join Dr Moore-Gilbert on the hunger strike.
Other prisoners in the women's ward planned to join in solidarity on Christmas Eve.
Iran has a pattern of taking academics and other foreign nationals to be used as bargaining chips as the tough United States sanctions hit the country.
West Australian couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin were arrested in Iran in August but released in October following negotiations by Foreign Minister Marise Payne's department.
A second letter, written by Dr Moore-Gilbert and Dr Adelkhah, gives details of today's planned hunger strike, acknowledging "unjustly imprisoned" academics.
"We will commence a joint hunger strike in the name of academic freedom," the pair wrote.
"We will strike on behalf of all academics and researchers across Iran and the Middle East, who like us have been unjustly imprisoned on trumped up charges and simply doing their job as researchers."
They argued they were hunger striking for justice for thousands of other "forgotten men and women who have suffered the same fate."
"This Christmas Eve, we ask you to join us for one day in foregoing food and water to express solidarity with us, while we will continue our strike beyond Christmas," the pair wrote.
Dr Moore-Gilbert's family has been in regular contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the matter was of deep concern to the Government that it had been calling for Iranian Government to release her.
"The Government continues to insist that Dr Moore-Gilbert be treated fairly, humanely and in accordance with international norms," she said.
"I have communicated with my Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, many times about this case, including through face-to-face meetings.
"I continue to believe that the best chance of a successful outcome for Dr Moore-Gilbert is through diplomatic channels. Officials continue to work very hard with me behind the scenes to try to secure Dr Moore-Gilbert's release."