Iran swaps jailed British-Australian academic with Iranians jailed abroad

Moore-Gilbert was tried and convicted within the Iranian courts in secret just over a year and a half ago.

A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran has exchanged jailed British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert with three Iranians jailed abroad, a website affiliated to Iran's state TV reported on its Twitter account on Wednesday.
"An Iranian businessman and two Iranian citizens who were detained abroad on baseless charges were exchanged for a dual national spy named Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who worked for the Zionist regime," the Young Journalist Club news website said.
Moore-Gilbert, a specialist in Middle East politics at the University of Melbourne, was detained in Iran in September, 2018.
State TV said that an Iranian businessman and two Iranian citizens who had been held abroad "on baseless charges" had been exchanged for Moore-Gilbert.
It gave no further details about the three Iranians, but said they were detained for trying to circumvent U.S. sanctions, reimposed on Iran in 2018 when Washington exited Iran's nuclear deal with six powers.
Footage aired by state TV showed Moore-Gilbert at the airport with a headscarf, appearing to be waiting to board a plane to leave Iran.
The footage also showed three men wearing face-masks with Iranian national flags on their shoulders and one in a wheelchair with his both legs amputated at the knee, were welcomed at the airport by Iranian officials with chants of “Allahu akbar” (God is Greatest).
There was no immediate comment from Britain's Foreign Office.
She was given a 10-year sentence for espionage - a charge which Moore-Gilbert vehemently denies and coincidentally has been the predicament a number of other foreign and dual nationals have found themselves in when visiting the country.
Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting dual nationals to try to win concessions from other countries. Tehran denies it holds people for political reasons and has accused many of the foreigners in its jails of espionage.
Moore-Gilbert was tried and convicted within the Iranian courts in secret just over a year and a half ago.
She received conflicting sentences throughout her initial trial and appeal processes, one being a 13 month sentence which would have been the softer sentence including time served, although a second judge handed her a 10 year term - the Islamic Republic decided Moore-Gilbert is to serve out the 10 year term.
She later argued the suspicious nature surround the separate rulings.
Moore-Gilbert was one of at least five dual nationals being held in Evin prison - reportedly she was housed in solitary. She was believed to have been held in the same prison where a British-Iranian aid worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been jailed since 2016, also on spying charges. Moore-Gilbert was later transferred to Gharchak Women's Prison.
Ironically, Iran even tried to recruit the academic as a spy for the Islamic Republic to which she refused, according to smuggled out handwritten letters.
The Australian government had been requesting her immediately release through diplomatic channels since the initial charges were handed down, which came to no avail until now.