Detained British-Australian academic says Iran offered her to become spy


Kylie Moore-Gilbert, British-Australian academic jailed in Tehran on espionage charges, claims the Iranian government tried to recruit her as a spy in exchange for her release but she rebuffed the offer.

In letters smuggled out of Tehran’s Evin prison, Dr Moore-Gilbert wrote she has “never been a spy” and fears for her mental health.

She says she has been denied visits and phone calls and has been held in an “extremely restrictive detention ward”.

She is currently serving a 10 year sentence in the Evin prison’s notorious Ward 2A, an isolated wing run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Extracts of the letters have been published in the Guardian and Times.

The Guardian says the letters were written by the Middle East expert to Iranian officials and span the period from June to December 2019.

One to her “case manager” indignantly turns down the offer to become a spy for Iran.

“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 (IRGC),” she writes.

“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.”

In other letters she says “my health has deteriorated significantly”, having been taken to Baghiatallah Hospital twice and the jail’s infirmary six times.

“I think I am in the midst of a serious psychological problem,” she says, worsened by “the ban on having any phone calls with my family”.

Dr Moore-Gilbert remains adamant that she is “an innocent woman… imprisoned for a crime I have not committed”.

The Cambridge-educated academic was travelling on an Australian passport and was detained at Tehran airport in 2018 as she tried to leave following a conference.

She was tried in secret last year for espionage and is being held in an isolated IRGC-run wing of Evin, the Guardian says.

It says she has spent months in solitary confinement in a small cell.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne says she has pressed for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release but Iran has not moved.

In October, British-Australian woman Jolie King and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin were released after being jailed in Tehran earlier in 2019, reportedly for flying a drone without a permit.

Australia returned a jailed Iranian student, Reza Dehbashi Kivi, at roughly the same time.

British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been jailed for more than three years over spying allegations she denies. (Source: BBC)