November 25, 2020

Kylie Moore-Gilbert Freed, But Life of Ahmadreza Djalali in Danger

NIAC welcomes news today of Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s release from prison in Iran. Moore-Gilbert—a lecturer of Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne—was arrested at a Tehran airport as she was leaving Iran after attending a conference in September 2018. We have followed the harrowing details of her case, in which the academic was accused of spying for a foreign government.

Dr. Moore-Gilbert was transferred to the notorious Qarchak prison in July of this year, raising concerns for her mental and physical health in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and fears of contracting the virus in prison. Reports indicate that Moore-Gilbert was released in a prisoner swap. Though nothing can make up for the distress and time she has lost unjustly detained, we hope she will be soon reunited with her friends and family who continued to advocate for her through this disturbing ordeal.

The charges of espionage brought against Moore-Gilbert are often used against foreign and dual nationals by Iranian authorities. In another such case, Iranian-Swedish physician and researcher Ahmadreza Djalali was detained in Iran in 2016 for alleged espionage and sentenced to execution in October of 2017. As Amnesty International has reported, Dr. Djalai’s trial was “grossly unfair,” and the evidence brought against Djalali was predominantly based on a confession made under duress. Reports this week reveal that Dr. Djalali may face imminent execution, sparking outcry from activists and the international community rightly calling for an immediate halt to plans of execution. A statement from the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner urged “Iranian authorities to take immediate action to reverse this decision before it is too late.”

As the case of Moore-Gilbert illustrates, the issue of foreign and dual national detentions in Iran often takes place within a contentious political context. Iranian authorities must abide by their human rights obligations, guarantee due process and fair trials for all detainees, and end their practice of arbitrary detentions that endanger the lives of innocent people. NIAC unequivocally condemns the continued arbitrary detentions of dual and foreign nationals by Iranian authorities—such as Siamak and Baquer Namazi, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe among others—and joins the chorus of voices calling for an immediate stay of execution for Dr. Djalali.

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