Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert came to global attention following her release in November 2020 from two years of imprisonment by the Iranian regime.
Moore-Gilbert is a scholar of the Middle East at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on the Arab states of the Gulf region. In September 2018, the intelligence arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested her at Tehran Airport as she was leaving the country after attending a conference. Moore-Gilbert was flagged as “suspicious” by a fellow academic and by a subject she interviewed for her research. She was subsequently tried and sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage, with some sources claiming she had been detained after it was discovered that she was in a relationship with an Israeli, leading to suspicions of her being a spy.
Moore-Gilbert said in an interview following her release that she was forcibly injected with a tranquilizer and beaten up. She also described her time in solitary confinement as “psychological torture,” which she says was “designed to break you,” to the extent that she was driven to consider suicide. Iranian authorities also tried to recruit her as a spy in exchange for her release, which she declined.
Since her release, allegedly in a prisoner exchange deal for three Iranians held overseas, she has continued to raise awareness about Iran’s practice of “hostage diplomacy” and draw attention to the fate of other foreign nationals arbitrarily arrested for purposes of diplomatic leverage.