Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Australian academic jailed in Iran, says she rejected offer to become a spy

Posted by
Dr Moore-Gilbert says she fears for her mental health.

An Australian academic held in a Tehran prison has said she rejected an offer from Iran to become a spy in exchange for her release.

Key points:

  • Dr Moore-Gilbert said in a letter that her health “has deteriorated significantly”
  • She said she would not change her decision on the offer to spy for Iran under any circumstances
  • Dr Moore-Gilbert said it was “inhumane” being denied to speak to her family

Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran since October 2018, serving 10 years for espionage.

In extracts of multiple handwritten letters smuggled out of prison — published by The Guardian and Times of London — Dr Gilbert-Moore said she had never been a spy and feared for her mental health.

“I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest to work for a spying organisation in any country. When I leave Iran, I want to be a free woman and live a free life, not under the shadow of extortion and threats,” one of the letters said.

Dr Moore-Gilbert also wrote to her “case manager” in the letter, “please accept this letter as an official and definitive rejection of your offer to me to work with the intelligence branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps”, the Guardian reported.

“Under no circumstances will I be persuaded to change my decision.”

She said she had been denied phone calls to her family and she was repeatedly transferred to hospital due to her failing mental and physical health.

In another letter seen by the Guardian, Dr Moore-Gilbert said her “health has deteriorated significantly” and that it was “really inhumane” not being allowed to speak to her family.

“I think I am in the midst of a serious psychological problem, I can no longer stand the pressures of living in this extremely restrictive detention ward anymore.”

Kylie Moore-Gilbert stands in front of a tree smiling.

Evin prison has a reputation for brutal treatment of inmates, including mock executions, beatings and psychological “torture”.

Dr Moore-Gilbert is a Middle East expert at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, specialising in the Arab Gulf states. She has also studied at Cambridge.

The Federal Government has previously described Dr Moore-Gilbert’s situation as complex, and Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said Australia does not accept the spying charges against her.

A recent appeal to her 10-year sentence has failed.