British-Australian academic ‘tried to kill herself in Iran's Evin prison’

Kylie Moore-Gilbert has written of psychological trauma inside the jail, where she is being held on trumped-up spying charges

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert speaks during an interview in Modern Middle East program in Melbourne, Australia September 20, 2017 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST /via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

The husband of a prisoner in Iran's Evin jail has said that her fellow inmate, British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, tried to commit suicide while being held on trumped-up spying charges.

Reza Khandan, husband of jailed Iranian rights campaigner Nasrin Sotoudeh, wrote on Facebook that Ms Moore-Gilbert’s situation became unbearable after she was kept in solitary confinement.

Mr Khandan, also a rights activist who has spent time in jail, later told a charity supporting families of the detained that the academic was “extremely troubled, angry and unhappy”.

“We don’t know the details about how she attempted suicide or how she is now,” Mr Khandan told the US-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran.

"But we do know that she’s being held in horrible, unbearable conditions in the security ward, denied contact with other prisoners and prevented from being transferred to the general ward."

Ms Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in September 2018 as she tried to return from an education conference and was convicted of espionage.

She has previously written of feeling “abandoned and forgotten” in letters from the prison, where she is serving a 10-year sentence.

“I think I am in the midst of a serious psychological problem. I can no longer stand the pressures of living in this extremely restrictive detention ward any more," Ms Moore-Gilbert wrote in letters obtained by British media.

In a written appeal to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, she said she had been on five hunger strikes “as my only means to raise my voice”, but to no avail.

The human rights centre called on the Australian and British governments to make greater efforts to secure her release and stop her suffering more harm.

“Kylie’s cries for help are so loud and desperate that even the walls of one Iran’s most notorious prisons can’t silence them,” said the centre's executive director, Hadi Ghaemi.

Ms Sotoudeh, an Iranian lawyer, was among the few who defended dissenters arrested in the 2009 mass protests and has served several spells in prison.

Her latest term started in 2018.