By Anthony Galloway
July 28, 2020 — 6.53pm
An Australian university lecturer serving a 10-year sentence for espionage in Iran has been transferred to a notorious remote prison in the desert, the Australian government has confirmed.
Australians, colloquially referred to as “Aussies”, are people associated with the country of Australia, usually holding Australian citizenship.
Between 1788 and the Second World War, the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the British Isles (principally England, Ireland and Scotland), although there was significant immigration from China and Germany during the 19th century. Many early British settlements were penal colonies to house transported convicts. Immigration of “free settlers” increased exponentially from the 1850s, following a series of gold rushes. In the decades immediately following the Second World War, Australia received a large wave of immigration from across Europe, with many more immigrants arriving from Southern and Eastern Europe than in previous decades.
Since the end of the White Australia policy in 1973, Australia has pursued an official policy of multiculturalism and has the world’s eighth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 30 percent of the population in 2019. A large and continuing wave of immigration to Australia from across the world has continued into the 21st century, with Asia now being the largest source of immigrants. A smaller proportion are descended from Australia’s indigenous peoples, comprising Aboriginal Australians, Aboriginal Tasmanians and Torres Strait Islanders.
The development of a separate Australian identity and national character began in the 19th century, linked with the anti-transportation and nativist movements and the Eureka Rebellion during the colonial period and culminated in the federation of the Australian colonies in 1901. The primary language is Australian English, and Australian culture and literature have historically developed from Anglo-Celtic and Western traditions.
Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert transferred to notorious Iran jail
Cambridge-educated Kylie Moore-Gilbert had been held in Evin Prison in the capital, Tehran, for nearly two years but she was suddenly moved about three days ago to Qarchak women’s prison.
Qarchak is in the desert east of Tehran. It holds political prisoners, serious drug offenders and murderers and has been described as overcrowded. There are concerns over whether there are enough beds for all inmates.
There have been reports of coronavirus cases in the prison.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Iranian government said Dr Moore-Gilbert has been moved from Evin to Qarchak.
“Dr Moore-Gilbert’s case is one of the Australian Government’s highest priorities, including for our embassy officials in Tehran,” the spokeswoman said.
“We are urgently seeking further consular access to her at this new location.
“We hold Iran responsible for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s safety and well-being.
“Our Ambassador to Iran recently visited Dr Moore-Gilbert in Evin Prison, and she has had telephone contact with her family and the ambassador over the last several months.”
Dr Moore-Gilbert, who most recently worked as a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in September 2018 while at an educational conference and later convicted of espionage.
Dr Dara Conduit, research fellow at Deakin University, said the Australian government needed to reassure the Australian people that it was leaving no stone unturned to resolve Dr Moore-Gilbert’s case and “in the meantime it is achieving tangible and meaningful improvements in her living conditions”.
“Today’s report raises serious concerns on both these fronts,” she said.
“We are all Kylie Moore-Gilbert. This could happen to any of us, whether we’re researchers of the Middle East or Australian nationals on holidays.”
In letters smuggled out of prison, Dr Moore-Gilbert said Iran tried to recruit her as a spy in exchange for her release, an offer she appears to have rejected.
In a letter to her “case manager”, the dual Australian-British citizen wrote: “Please accept this letter as an official and definitive rejection of your offer to me to work with the intelligence branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
She is serving a 10-year sentence but has described being shown two conflicting sentences: one outlining 13 months’ imprisonment and the other a decade-long term.
Reza Khandan, the husband of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, has posted on Facebook that Dr Moore-Gilbert was transferred to Qarchak Prison “as punishment”.
Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.