Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert freed from Iranian jail in prisoner swap

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The release of British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert after over 800 days in an Iranian prison has been greeted with joy and relief in Australia and internationally. Her release came as part of an exchange for three Iranian prisoners.

Dr. Moore-Gilbert had been held in Iranian prisons for alleged spying since September 2018. Reports circulated that Moore-Gilbert was detained and charged with spying for Israel after Iran learned of her relationship with an Israeli citizen.

The University of Melbourne, where Moore-Gilbert was an academic, shared their relief at the news of her release:

Her support group of friends and colleagues also tweeted:

Global Voices reported on her case in August 2020: Melbourne academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert remains a ‘political hostage’ inside Iran’s Qarchak prison

There is a well-placed concern for Moore-Gilbert’s wellbeing once in Australia. Jason Rezaian, who spent 544 days imprisoned in Iran, shared his thoughts:

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in welcoming her release, claimed some credit for using quiet diplomacy, which has been criticised by some of her friends and colleagues. He refused to comment on any negotiations or other governments’ involvement. He stated that no prisoners in Australia were to be swapped.

The Iranian prisoners being swapped are believed to be three men convicted and held in Thailand on charges related to an attempt to kill Israeli diplomats. There have been the inevitable concerns about rewarding hostage diplomacy and undertaking terrorism-related negotiations:

The role of the Israel government has also been questioned:

Many Australians have raised other human rights issues, which they believe should be addressed by Scott Morrison’s government. Delia Quigley was one on those on social media reminding the Australian government of its treatment of asylum seekers, especially the use of long term detention:

Karyn H, a campaigner for the release of another Australian, Julian Assange, linked the two cases. She called on the Australian foreign minister, Marise Payne, to step up on his behalf:

Moore-Gilbert thanked the Australian government and praised the Iranian people in a statement after her release:

I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people. It is with bittersweet feelings that I depart your country, despite the injustices which I have been subjected to. I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions, and depart Iran with those sentiments not only still intact, but strengthened.

She is currently in COVID-19 quarantine at an undisclosed location.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.