Jailed academic rejects offer to spy for Iran

Academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who specialises in Middle Eastern politics with a focus on Gulf states. (Family of Kylie Moore-Gilbert/AFP)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Jailed academic rejects offer to spy for Iran

LONDON: An academic currently imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage has reportedly refused an offer to become a spy for Tehran in return for her freedom.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a UK-Australian dual national, made the revelation in a series of letters handed to The Times that were smuggled out of Evin prison, located in the north of the capital, where she is serving 10 years.

In the letters, addressed separately to a Mr. Vasiri, believed to be a deputy prosecutor in the Iranian judiciary, and a Mr. Ghaderi and Mr. Hosseini, who are thought to be officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Moore-Gilbert stated in basic Farsi that she had “never been a spy, and I have no intention to work for a spying organization in any country.” 

She added: “Please accept this letter as an official and definitive rejection of your offer to me to work with the intelligence branch of the IRGC.”

Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne in Australia, was arrested in 2018 after attending a conference in Tehran. 

She was tried and convicted in secret, and her letters implied that she had been kept in solitary confinement in a wing of Evin prison under the IRGC’s control.

It is reportedly the same wing being used to detain UK-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, also incarcerated for espionage, and away from the all-female cellblock that Moore-Gilbert was meant to have been housed in.

The letters catalog a series of other mistreatments and inhumane conditions, suggesting she had been permitted no contact with her family, and that, having been denied access to vital medication, her health was deteriorating.

She also suggested that she had been subjected to sleep deprivation methods, with lights in her cell kept on 24 hours per day, and that she was often blindfolded when transported. 

“It is clear that IRGC Intelligence is playing an awful game with me. I am an innocent victim,” she wrote.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in India last week, where the case was discussed.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry later issued a statement claiming that the country would not “submit to political games and propaganda” over the issue.

This comes at a time when international pressure has ratcheted up on the regime in Tehran following the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane over the capital on Jan. 8. 

Mass demonstrations nationwide followed the news that the plane had been shot down by Iranian forces. 

Olympian defects to Germany

Meanwhile, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizadeh, announced that she would not return to the country, citing her refusal to continue to be used as a “propaganda tool.”

She wrote of her decision on Instagram: “I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated. None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”

It was revealed on Jan. 20 that the taekwondo martial artist, who had been living and training in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, had elected to move to Hamburg in Germany, for whom she will now compete.

Alizadeh’s defection is just one in a series of high-profile acts of defiance by Iranians outraged by the actions of the regime.

At least two journalists working for Iranian state-owned TV channels are known to have resigned their positions in protest.

One, news anchor Gelare Jabbari, posted on Instagram: “It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed. Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”
 


UN hosts Muslim World League conference on protecting youth from extremism

Updated 57 min 51 sec ago

UN hosts Muslim World League conference on protecting youth from extremism

  • MPs, parliament speakers, UN ambassadors, an elite of religious and ideological leaders in attendance

GENEVA: Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa launched the initiatives of “youth protection from extremist and violent ideas and implementation mechanisms” during an international conference organized at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

MPs, parliament speakers, UN ambassadors, an elite of religious and ideological leaders and academics specialized in the topics of conference were in attendance.

Al-Issa said the initiatives aim at protecting the youth from violent and extremist ideologies or those inciting violence, and shed light on the responsibility of educational institutions in this context.

This would be achieved, he said, through the establishment of school curricula with “interactive activities” that focus on discussing the differences, diversity and pluralism in our world. 

They also aim to reaffirm that religious, ethnic and ideological clashes are a danger to world peace.

Al-Issa stressed the need to filter speeches targeting the youth from all that incites conflicts, hatred, racism and enmity, with the principle of human equality and understanding and respecting natural differences and diversity as an important foundation for countries and societies’ peace and harmony. 

He also noted the importance of spreading tolerance and rejecting the disadvantages of hate, racism and marginalization.

He said: “It is important to ban the exportation or importation of fatwas and religious ideas, for the religious awareness is flexible, and takes into consideration the changes of fatwas and religious sermons in line with the time, place and circumstances,” adding that extremism is not acceptable in any circumstance.

Egypt’s Minister of Endowments Dr. Mohammed Mokhtar Jomaa stressed during the conference that terrorism has become more dangerous than today’s diseases, as it has become easier to spread than any virus.  

“Individuals, countries and organizations must all work together on a purely humanitarian ground, for there is no development, prosperity, advancement or economy without security, and no security with terrorism and no terrorism eradication without protecting the youth from extremism,” he said.