An Iranian official has said Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert (pictured), held as a political prisoner since January, must serve her full sentence.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Saturday that “Iran will not submit to political games and propaganda” in response to “certain reports”.

Moore-Gilbert and French academic Fariba Adelkhah began a hunger strike on Christmas Eve seeking freedom for all researchers and political prisoners “unjustly imprisoned on trumped-up charges”.

Moore-Gilbert also appealed to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison: “Please I beg of you to do whatever it takes to get me out.”

See also Iran Daily, Dec 27: Detained Australian and French Academics on Hunger Strike

The University of Melbourne lecturer was seized as she was departing Iran after a research trip. She is a specialist on the Arab world, authoritarian governments, and the role of new media technologies in political activism.

Mousavi insisted that Moore-Gilbert was guilty of espionage, having lost an appeal against a 10-year sentence: “Like any other individual with a sentence, [she] will serve her time while enjoying all legal rights.”

After reports of the hunger strike, France summoned Iranian officials over the case. Adelkhah, a native of Iran and faculty member at France’s Sciences Po, was detained in June. Her colleague Roland Marchal was also arrested.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have carried out a series of detentions of foreign and dual nationals despite the 2015 nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany).

Earlier this month Americah historian Xiyue Wang, detained since 2016 in Tehran, was exchanged for an Iranian scientist imprisoned in the US over sanctions violations.

Mousavi reinforced the link between Iran’s seizure of academics and its complaints over Iranians imprisoned abroad. He said the Islamic Republic will not forget Australia’s “illegal” treatment of Negar Ghodskani, arrested in 2017 over violation of US sanctions.

Ghodskani gave birth in Australian custody before she was extradited to the US and sentenced. She was released in September and returned to Iran.