Kylie Moore-Gilbert:Will a prisoner swap with Australia encourage more hostage-taking by Iran?
Ian Parmeter, Australian National University. View Post Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s release from an Iranian prison after more than two years’ detention is certainly a welcome development. However, the circumstances raise some uncomfortable questions for Australian and Western diplomats related to Iran’s penchant for using hostage-taking as a bargaining chip for the release of its own citizens detained abroad for suspected or proven crimes, including terrorism. There seems little doubt Moore-Gilbert was released as part of a prisoner exchange. Iranian state media has shown pictures of the academic with Australian embassy officials in Tehran, juxtaposed with film of three Iranian men being welcomed by Iranian officials, apparently at Tehran’s airport. The Iranian media says she was exchanged for an Iranian “economic activist” and two Iranian citizens, who had been detained “abroad on trumped-up charges”. The report does not name the men. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given a carefully worded statement in response to questions about a prisoner swap. If other people have been released in other places, they are the decisions of the sovereign governments. There are no people who have been held in Australia who have been released. That may be true as far as Australia is concerned. But a report by The New York Times, quoting Iranian social media channels associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), identifies the three Iranians as Saeed Moradi, Mohammad Khazaei and Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh. The three had been detained in Thailand since 2012 on charges of planning to plant bombs in Bangkok and assassinate Israeli diplomats there. One of those men had reportedly lost his legs when a bomb he was carrying exploded prematurely. In a similar context, the release last year of two Australians being held in Iran, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, coincided with an Iranian research student at the University of Queensland, Reza Dehbashi Kivi, being permitted by […]