Australian swapped for Iranian terrorists was arrested over Israeli boyfriend

Australians warned that travel to Iran is ‘a dangerous prospect’ because the Islamic Republic takes Westerners hostage to trade for terrorists.

By World Israel News staff

Freed British-Australian university professor Kylie Moore-Gilbert arrived to freedom in Australia after two years in an Iranian jail, Sky News reported Sunday.

Iran arrested Moore-Gilbert in 2018 and sentenced her to ten years in jail on “trumped-up espionage charges” related to her then boyfriend being Israeli. The 33-year-old Islamic studies professor was arrested at Tehran airport after attending an academic conference.

The Iranians exploited her Israeli connection to use her as collateral in exchange for three convicted Iranian terrorists who were jailed in Thailand, the Daily Mail reported.

The three Iranian prisoners released are Saeed Moradi, Mohammad Hazaei and Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh. The men were involved in an attempted attack on Israeli targets in Bangkok in 2012 in which five people were injured.

At the time of the 2012 terror attack, Iran denied any involvement, but after Moradi was sentenced to life in prison and the other two to 15 years each, Iran apparently sought an opportunity for a prisoner exchange and found that in Moore-Gilbert, Israel Defense Magazine reported.

“There is a clear pattern of the Iranian government arbitrarily arresting foreign nationals with dual citizenship and using them as bargaining chips in negotiations with other countries,” said Elaine Pearson, director of the Australian branch of Human Rights Watch.

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Moore-Gilbert’s release ended more than two years of diplomatic battles between Australia and Iran.

“I used to say I believe in miracles, and now I’ve got another one,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday, adding that Moore-Gilbert had done nothing wrong and that the Iranian accusations were baseless.

In an editorial Sunday, the Sydney Morning Herald said Moore-Gilbert “found herself a pawn caught in a high-stakes diplomatic game between Iran and the Western world,” warning that her release “only emboldens Iran to seize more Western hostages and use them as bargaining chips for its own political purposes.”

“It makes travel to Iran for any Australian a dangerous prospect, one that can compromise the government and potentially unshackle terrorists who would have otherwise stayed behind bars,” the paper said. “Iran must be held to account for its hostage-taking; for the egregious way in which it dallies with the lives of innocent people to get its own way.”