Cambridge-educated lecturer in Islamic Studies at Melbourne University has been in prison in Tehran for almost a year
The third foreign national revealed to be imprisoned in Iran this week has been named by the Australian government as Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Melbourne academic who has published work on the 2011 Arab uprisings and on authoritarian governments.
Moore-Gilbert, a dual UK-Australian national, is Cambridge educated and worked as a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Melbourne University. She has been in Tehrans notorious Evin prison for almost a year.
Her case came to light this week along with those of another British-Australian woman, Jolie King, and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin, who have been held for the past 10 weeks in an unrelated incident.
The Australian government has said it is lobbying Tehran to ensure all three are appropriately cared for. Both the British and Australian governments have been trying to keep the identities of their arrested citizens out of the public domain, believing diplomatic efforts to have them released would be more effective if conducted in private.
The University of Melbournes website lists Dr Moore-Gilbert on its Find an expert page as a lecturer at the universitys Asia Institute.
It says she specialises in Middle Eastern politics, with a particular focus on the Arab Gulf states, and that she had published work on the 2011 Arab uprisings, authoritarian governance, and on the role of new media technologies in political activism.
Her most recent publications have been journal articles and book chapters regarding Bahrains February 14 pro-democracy youth movement.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Saturday released a statement from Dr Moore-Gilberts family, which said: We have been and continue to be in close contact with the Australian government.
Our family thanks the government and the University of Melbourne for their ongoing support at this distressing and sensitive time. We believe that the best chance of securing Kylies safe return is through diplomatic channels.
We will not be making any further comment and would like to request that our privacy and that of our wider family and friends is respected at this time.
While news of the trios incarcerations only surfaced this week, Australias foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, says she has raised their cases many times with her Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif.
Senator Payne has denied the arrests were politically motivated, although some reports have speculated the trio are being held in hope of giving Iran political leverage on a number of ongoing disputes with the western countries.
We have no reason to think that these arrests are connected to international concern over Irans nuclear programme, United Nations sanction enforcement or maritime security concerning the safety of civilian shipping, Senator Payne said.
News of the three prisoners this week has come amid a downturn in relations between Iran and the US-led western bloc, including the UK and Australia. Relations with Tehran and have been seriously strained over the re-imposition of economic sanctions after US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
British and Iranian relations have been further inflamed by tensions in the Persian Gulf, including the Royal Marines seizure near Gibraltar in July of an Iranian oil tanker, the Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as Grace 1.
Iran responded by seizing British-flagged oil tanker the Stena Impero in what was another chapter in a campaign of interfering with shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
While Britain released the Adrian Darya 1, the Stena Impero is still being held by Iran.
Australia has maintained diplomatic relations with Tehran through recent decades where other western nations have abandoned them, or they have become acutely strained.
But in August, the Australian prime minister committed to a US-led mission to patrol the Strait of Hormuz, off Irans south coast, through which about a fifth of the worlds oil passes. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said destabilising behaviour a thinly veiled reference to Irans capture of foreign-flagged ships was a threat to Australian interests.
King, a building designer, and Firkin, a construction manager, left their home in Perth, Western Australia, in 2017, documenting their travels on a blog called The Way Overland. They planned to drive from Perth to London.
The editor of the Persian-language broadcaster Manoto TV, Pouria Zeraati, said on Twitter a source had told him the couple had been arrested for flying a drone near the capital, Tehran.
Earlier reports suggested the couple had been camping in a military area around Jajrood in Tehran province.
The couple were blogging their travels on YouTube and Instagram. Dozens of videos and photographs posted online appear to have been shot using a drone.
The family says this was a misunderstanding and Jolie King and her fiance Mark Firkin were unaware of the Iranian law which bans drone flights without a licence, Zeraati said online.
Their trial has not been held yet and it is not clear what the Islamic Republic [of Iran] wants out of this arrest, as no one from the judiciary or intelligence services has made any comment on this.
Evin prison, the main detention centre for Irans political prisoners, also houses 41-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother of one who is midway through a five-year sentence on spying charges which began in 2016.
While Iran has not commented publicly on any of the arrests, in April Foreign Minister Zarif proposed swapping Zaghari-Ratcliffe for Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian woman in jail in the US.
Press Association contributed to this report.