Iran regime hostage survivor urges ‘do not travel’ to Iran

The Iranian regime is notorious for seizing mainly Western citizens and dual-nationality Iranian citizens as hostages to extract concessions from the West.

Iranians ride on motorcycles as they participate in the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, Iran, February 11, 2022. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Iranians ride on motorcycles as they participate in the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, Iran, February 11, 2022.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Australian Islamic studies academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by Iran for 804 days from 2018-2020, urged Western governments to advise their citizens not to travel to the Islamic Republic.

“Iran should be classified as DO NOT TRAVEL in Western govts' travel advice," she tweeted on Saturday. "If Iran wishes to negotiate a return of Western tourists and their valuable dollars and euros, they should agree to enforceable measures to protect and prevent their arrest.”

“Unfortunately, the many good people working in Iran's struggling tourism sector would be damaged by such a policy," Moore-Gilbert said. "Due to the regime's shocking behaviour however, I believe Western countries are left with no choice. “

The Iranian regime is notorious for seizing mainly Western citizens and dual-nationality Iranian citizens as hostages to extract concessions from the West.

A demonstration supporting the Swedish-Iranian doctor and researcher Ahmadreza Djalali, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death in Iran, was held in Stockholm, Sweden, May 14, 2022. (credit: ANDERS WIKLUND/TT NEWS AGENCY/VIA REUTERS)A demonstration supporting the Swedish-Iranian doctor and researcher Ahmadreza Djalali, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death in Iran, was held in Stockholm, Sweden, May 14, 2022. (credit: ANDERS WIKLUND/TT NEWS AGENCY/VIA REUTERS)

“Actually, despite Iran's increasingly brazen use of hostage-taking as a diplomatic tool in recent years, most everyday people are not informed that they are at risk of becoming a hostage if they travel to Iran. Most countries don't even mention this in their travel advice on Iran," she wrote in other tweets.

“The no. [number] of foreign tourists who have been arrested in the past year - French, Swedes, Poles, Belgians etc - marks a frightening escalation of Iran's hostage-taking practices. In response, I believe there is no solution other than to ban Western tourists fr[om] visiting Iran altogether.”

"Iran's hostage-taking is an international crime. But those who travel to Iran now do so knowing that this is a risk. Every person taken hostage thought 'it won't happen to me,'

Norman Roule, an advisor to the American organization United Against a Nuclear Iran

The United States government – under both Democratic and Republican administrations – has designated Iran’s theocratic regime the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.

Belgian citizen imprisoned in Iran

Moore-Gilbert's recommendation to Western governments came after it was reported last week that Belgian's justice minister revealed that a Belgian citizen was accused of spying and was being held in Iran. The regime frequently uses the bogus pretext of espionage to imprison foreigners. It seized Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who has been held in isolation in prison for five months. According to his friends, his health is rapidly declining.

Norman Roule, an advisor to the American organization United Against a Nuclear Iran, tweeted that "Iran's hostage-taking is an international crime. But those who travel to Iran now do so knowing that this is a risk. Every person taken hostage thought 'it won't happen to me,' 'they know I'm not a threat,' 'the threat has been exaggerated,' etc."

Iran experts accuse the theocratic state of holding a number of European and American hostages in its vast prison system, including Ahmadreza Djalali, who has dual Iranian-Swedish citizenship, the German-Iranian Jamshid Sharmahd, the Austrian-Iranian Massud Mossaheb, and French tourist Benjamin Briere. Additional hostages come from the US, Poland and Germany.

Moore-Gilbert recently published an account of her imprisonment, titled The Uncaged Sky: My 804 Days in an Iranian Prison.