Kylie Moore-Gilbert at Doha Airport, en route to Australia from Iran after her release from detention in December
Anglo-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a political prisoner in Iran for more than 26 months, has described her online harassment by Tim Anderson, a conspiracy theorist fired by Sydney University in 2019.
Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, was seized in September 2018 while visiting Iran to take part in a university program on Islam for foreign academics. She was given a 10-year sentence for “espionage”, but freed in December 2020 in exchange for three Iranians held in Thailand over a bomb plot.
The academic has spoken of “psychological torture” and thoughts of suicide as she was interrogated: “It’s an extreme solitary confinement room designed to break you….You go completely insane.”
She told The Australian newspaper that she is being abused online by Anderson, who in declaring that she is a spy who received “military and leadership training in Israel”.
Anderson, a political economist, was dismissed by Sydney University after he showed students a picture of a swastika superimposed on the Israeli flag. He was convicted in 1990 of ordering the 1978 bombing of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, in which three people were killed, and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The conviction was overturned on appeal in 1991.
In recent years, the former lecturer has been prominent on social media for his fervent support of the Assad regime in Syria’s conflict. He has pushed conspiracy theories trying to absolve the regime of any responsibility for conventional and chemical attacks which have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Moore-Gilbert spoke of Anderson as “a mouthpiece for these regimes”.
It’s not just him; there’s quite a few useful idiots in Western countries who are happy to do a deal with these guys. I honestly don’t see any logical explanation for his fixation on me, that months after my release he’s still tweeting about me the same propagandistic stuff that was released by the regime.
The academic noted how she may have been seized because she has an Israeli husband, Ruslan Hodorov. Anderson and other pro-Assad conspiracy theorists have also attacked her for attending the Tikvah Israel Fellows program in the West Bank in 2011, where she met Hodorov.
Moore-Gilbert is now seeking a divorce, claiming that while she was detained, Hodorov had an affair with one of her colleagues.
Anderson continued his online assault on Sunday, repeating his unsupported claim that Moore-Gilbert is an Israeli spy.
The former lecturer also smeared Anglo-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as an operative for UK intelligence services.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed a 5-year sentence in Iran in March. Iranian authorities have refused to let her return to the UK, threatening to file new charges against her.