Freed academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert urges Iran to release western prisoners

Australian-British citizen looking to the future with strength and positivity after spending more than two years in jail

Kylie Moore-Gilbert at Hamad International Airport, Qatar, before flying to Australia after her release after more than two years in an Iranian jail. Twitter/ @FreeKylieMG
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The Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert on Monday called for the release of western inmates held in Iran as she looked to the future with “positivity” after serving more than 800 days in prison.

Dr Moore-Gilbert, who left Iran two months ago, highlighted the cases of Austrian, American, German, French, Swedish and British dual-national political prisoners in Iran, some of whom have been held for more than five years.

They include Siamak Namazi, a UAE-based businessman, who was jailed in October 2015, and the Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who has the looming threat of execution hanging over him after his arrest for alleged spying the following year.

Dr Moore-Gilbert also highlighted the plight of “many, many unnamed Iranians” currently held by the regime.

Dr Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, was accused by Iran of spying for enemy states, including Israel, although authorities failed to produce credible evidence for the charge.

She was released as part of a prison swap with three Iranians in November. Ms Moore-Gilbert had been serving a 10-year sentence for spying, allegations she and her supporters said were fabricated.

The Australian-British academic has kept a low profile since her release, however, in a series of tweets on Monday she thanked supporters, the Australian foreign ministry, which secured her release, and her family, who “have like me recently woken up from this nightmare”.

“I can never regain the 2+ years which were stolen from me, but I am looking to the future with strength, positivity and a renewed appreciation for what I’d long taken for granted – justice and freedom,” she wrote.

“The kindness of strangers, and of family and friends, has been truly staggering. THANK YOU to those who campaigned for my release from all over the world, known and unknown, named and unnamed.

“I may be free, but there are countless innocent others still imprisoned in Iran whom deserve your support.”

The fate of Mr Djalali is the most pressing after he told his wife in December last year that he was being moved from Tehran’s Evin jail to another prison where he would be executed.

Amnesty International, which is campaigning for his release, said senior Iranian officials delayed his execution for a month. Amnesty said that Mr Djalali has been tortured and held in solitary confinement in an attempt to force him to confess.

His survival is considered to be tied to the criminal trial in Antwerp, Belgium, of Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who is accused of masterminding a plot to blow up an anti-regime rally near Paris in 2018. Verdicts in the case are expected next week.

Dr Moore-Gilbert also raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian charity worker, whose five-year jail term for alleged espionage-related crimes is due to end in March.

The regime has threatened to charge her with other offences, which could extend her prison sentence. She is currently living with her parents in Iran as part of a temporary release plan to protect inmates from the spread of Covid-19.