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Dr Kylie

Academic & Expert on Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies


Kylie Moore-Gilbert has lived a reality that most would consider their worst nightmare - falsely imprisoned in an Iranian prison, placed in solitary confinement, with little to no hope of release.

In September 2018, Kylie was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps after travelling to the country to attend an academic conference at the invitation of a local university. While preparing to make her way home, Kylie was convicted of espionage in a sham trial and sentenced to 10 years.

Before this ordeal, Kylie graduated from the University of Cambridge with first-class honours in Arabic and Hebrew and obtained a PhD in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Melbourne. She wrote her first book, taught academic and master's courses, and supervised research students.

However, her studies and career could not prepare her for the indescribable conditions she faced during her incarceration, an experience that has affected every part of her life and changed her perspective on ambition, accomplishment and what truly matters.

Current Work:

After serving more than two years of her sentence, Kylie was brought back to Australia in a prisoner exchange deal in November 2020. She has resolved to advocate for other unjustly detained individuals in foreign prisons and shine a light on how international governments can better handle arbitrary detention.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert is the author of the best-selling memoir The Uncaged Sky about the 804 days she spent in prison.

Talking Points

The Uncaged Sky

On 12 September 2018 Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran Airport by Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guards, following a brief visit to the country for an academic conference. Ultimately convicted of espionage in a shadowy trial presided over by Iran’s most notorious judge, Kylie was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kylie's presentation draws on her gripping account of her harrowing ordeal incarcerated for 804 days in Tehran’s Evin and Qarchak prisons. Held in a filthy solitary confinement cell for months, and subjected to relentless interrogation, Kylie was pushed to the limits of her endurance by extreme physical and psychological deprivation. Cut off from the outside world, Kylie realised she alone had the power to change the dynamics of her incarceration. Kylie orchestrated multiple hunger strikes, smuggled letters to the media, co-ordinated protests with other prisoners and made a daring escape attempt, all of which led to her transfer to the isolated desert prison, Qarchak, to live among convicted criminals. Kylie candidly shares the lengths to which she went to survive and fight back, and reveals the universal lessons she learnt from her ordeal about hope, courage and resilience.

On November 25, 2020, after more than two years of struggle, Kylie was finally released in a high stakes three-nation prisoner swap deal orchestrated by the Australian government, laying bare the complex game of global politics in which she had become a valuable pawn.

Shared with extraordinary insight, vivid immediacy and vulnerability, Kylie’s story is a powerful meditation on hope, solidarity and what it means to be free.
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