British-Australian academic loses appeal against Iran jail term

British-Australian academic loses appeal against Iran jail term
British-Australian academic loses appeal against Iran jail term

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - British-Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert has lost an appeal against a ten-year jail term for spying in Iran, according to Australian media reports.

Dr Moore-Gilbert’s failed appeal is the latest blow for jailed foreign nationals in Iran after a brief period of hope following the release of a US academic in a prisoner swap earlier this month.

She has been held in solitary confinement for more than 14 months at the notorious Evin prison after being invited to speak at a conference in Iran.

She managed to get a note out of the jail for political prisoners which said: “Make sure this does not go unnoticed,” Australia’s Herald Sun reported. Dr Moore-Gilbert was said be “desperate” as she prepares to spend a second Christmas in solitary confinement.

The Middle East expert from the University of Melbourne has previously studied at Cambridge University in the UK. Supporters say she is no spy and is being held as a bargaining chip in any potential future prisoner swap.

Her case is unrelated to two Australian video bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin who were held for three months this year for flying a drone in Iran.

Xiyue Wang, an American academic, was freed earlier this month in exchange for Iranian Massoud Soleimani who was being held in the United States over suspected sanctions violations. His release raised hopes among the families of prisoners that more could follow.

Dr Moore-Gilbert’s family said in September that the best chance of securing her “safe return is through diplomatic channels".

Her failed appeal comes as governments have come under increasing pressure from families of detainees in Iran to do more to press Tehran to release their loved ones.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an aid worker held since April 2016, said he has been promised a meeting with Boris Johnson, the newly-elected British prime minister.

Before he became prime minister, Mr Johnson was strongly criticised after telling MPs that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in country potentially training journalists, an admission seized on by Iranian media to justify her detention.

He later apologised and insisted that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in the country to visit her family with her young daughter.

Updated: December 22, 2019 06:23 PM

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