Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert was released from detention in Iran earlier this week YOUTUBE/THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Cambridge alumna who has been detained in Iran for over two years on charges of espionage, was released earlier this week (25/11).

Moore-Gilbert was moved to Qarchak prison earlier this year, which has been described by the Iran Human Rights Monitor as “the most dangerous and worst prison in Iran due to its inhumane medical and psychological conditions.”

The former Asian and Middle Eastern Studies student and Islamic Studies Professor at the University of Melbourne was accused of espionage in September 2018 after attending a conference in Iran, and was imprisoned for a total of 804 days. The concerns sparked by her transfer to the remote Qarchak prison, located in the desert 25km south-east of Tehran, were heightened by fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19 in Iran’s overcrowded prisons.

Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, told the BBC that her release was “achieved through diplomatic engagement with the Iranian government.” The Iranian media reported that her freedom was granted in exchange for three Iranian citizens who had been detained abroad.

Prior to her detention in 2018, Moore-Gilbert had been reported to the revolutionary guards as “suspicious” by a person she had interviewed as part of her research as well as by a fellow conference attendee. She had originally received a 10-year sentence after a closed trial took place, and had strongly denied the charges made against her. During her years of imprisonment, Moore-Gilbert has also carried out several hunger strikes in protest against her imprisonment.

On Friday afternoon (27/11) Moore-Gilbert disembarked from a plane at Canberra airport, and was met by public health officials and members of the Australian Defense Force. She will soon be reunited with her family.

Director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, agreed that the release of Dr Moore-Gilbert was “an enormous relief.” She added that “there may now be renewed grounds for hoping that UK-Iranian dual-nationals like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori will also be released from their unjust jail terms in Iran in the coming days or weeks.”

Human Rights groups have claimed that Moore-Gilbert was among a group of at least half a dozen foreign nationals and dual citizens being held by Iran as “bargaining chips,”

Moore-Gilbert thanked those who had supported her, stating that “it has meant the world to me to have you behind me throughout what has been a long and traumatic ordeal.” She added that her departure from Iran “bittersweet” and stated that she has “I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people.”

Moore-Gilbert’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, welcomed the actions of the Australian officials and referred to his wife’s release as “an early Christmas present for us all,” which will allow “one more family [to] begin to heal.”


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Last September, the University in a short statement promised to “continue to be in close contact with the Australian Government and Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s family,”

Amnesty International following Moore-Gilbert’s release commented in a statement that “Kylie was imprisoned solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression and association,” and “implores the Australian government to pursue all means possible to bring other Australians overseas home.”

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