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Iran Says Jailed Australian Academic Must Serve Time

Kylie Moore-Gilbert Middle East expert at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Asia Institute.
Tehran, Dec 28, 2019 (AFP) -

An Australian academic jailed in Iran for espionage must serve out her sentence, the foreign ministry in Tehran said Saturday, stressing it will not submit to "propaganda".

Kylie Moore-Gilbert reportedly began a hunger strike in Tehran's Evin prison on Tuesday after losing an appeal against a 10-year jail sentence.

Australia expressed "deep concern" over the matter, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne calling for her to be treated "fairly, humanely and in accordance with international norms".

In Tehran on Saturday, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said "Iran will not submit to political games and propaganda" in response to "certain reports" in Australian media.

Moore-Gilbert, "like any other individual with a sentence, will serve her time while enjoying all legal rights," he added.

The academic's arrest was confirmed in September.

She was accused of "spying for another country", but her family said at the time that she had been detained for months before that.

Moore-Gilbert and detained Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah began an indefinite hunger strike on Christmas Eve, France's Sciences Po University said on Thursday.

Adelkhah's arrest over "espionage" was confirmed in July. She is a specialist in Shiite Islam and a research director at Sciences Po.

Mousavi said Moore-Gilbert was detained for "violating Iran's national security" and her sentence had been issued in accordance with "all the related laws".

He added that Iran would not forget Australia's "illegal" treatment of Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian woman arrested in 2017 over violating US sanctions on Iran.

Ghodskani gave birth in Australian custody before being extradited to the United States.

She was sentenced in the United States for violating sanctions against Iran but was released in September and returned home.