The Australian ambassador to Iran visited an Anglo-Australian scholar serving a 10-year sentence for espionage and found that she was “fine”.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, has been detained in Iran since September 2018.
She was tried in secret and strongly denies all charges against her.
Concerns for her well-being intensified last week when news emerged that she had been transferred to Qarchak, a notorious desert prison.
Prison is sometimes used as a punishment for Iranian political prisoners and conditions have been described by former detainees as appalling.
But in a statement, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said Ambassador Lyndall Sachs had access to Ms Moore-Gilbert on Sunday and found her in good health.
She “has access to food, medical facilities and books,” the statement said, adding that Australia would continue to seek “regular consular access.”
“We believe that the best chance of resolving Dr. Moore-Gilbert’s case lies in the diplomatic channel,” he said.
Ms. Moore-Gilbert’s family said they were “reassured” by the Ambassador’s visit.
“We remain committed to getting our Kylie home as quickly as possible and that is our top priority,” they added.
What is Ms. Moore-Gilbert’s situation?
The Cambridge academic was traveling on an Australian passport when she was detained at Tehran airport in 2018 as she tried to leave following a lecture.
Before being transferred to Qarchak prison, she had spent nearly two years sleeping on the floor of a cell in Evin prison in the capital, Tehran, according to a friend.
She was held in solitary confinement and went on hunger strikes several times, and she was reportedly beaten for trying to comfort new prisoners by passing notes and writing to them on the prison walls.
In letters smuggled out of Evin prison in January, the speaker said she “had never been a spy” and feared for her sanity. She said she rejected an offer from Iran to become a spy.
“I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest in working for a spy organization in any country, ”she wrote.