A British-Australian academic who spent two years in an Iranian jail has announced she has divorced her husband after discovering he was having an affair with her friend and colleague while she was imprisoned.
Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Islamic studies scholar, was freed last November in a prisoner swap deal after spending 804 days in an Iranian jail on spying charges.
But upon her return she discovered her Russian-Israeli husband Ruslan Hodorov had been having an affair with Dr Kylie Baxter, her university colleague and PhD supervisor, while she was held captive.
The 33-year-old filed for divorce shortly after her release, and made the announcement that it was official on her Twitter account on Thursday.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert (left) discovered that her husband, Ruslan Hodorov, had been having an affair with Dr Kylie Baxter (pictured together right) after she was released from prison in Iran
Both Mr Hodorov, 31, and Dr Baxter, 43, pushed for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release after her arrest for espionage in September 2018 at Tehran airport as she attempted to leave the country.
She was given a ten-year sentence but always denied the charges, that reportedly stemmed from the Iranian authorities’ belief that she was a spy for Israel because of her relationship with her husband – an Israeli citizen.
While in prison, she refused to help lure him to Iran in a plot concocted by her captors, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC).
A letter from Dr Moore-Gilbert to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, which was smuggled out of Evin prison, revealed how the IRGC tried to set a trap for Mr Hodorov, who they accused of being an Israeli spy.
She was reported to have suffered ‘immense’ shock on learning of her husband’s betrayal, with friends previously telling Australian news outlets the affair started a year after Dr Moore-Gilbert’s arrest.
Before her September 2018 arrest Dr Moore-Gilbert and Mr Hodorov had just bought a house in Melbourne after marrying in 2017 in a Jewish ceremony.
Dr Moore-Gilbert declared the divorce was finalised in a post on Twitter, making light of the situation with a reference to a Kylie Minogue cameo in Australian sit-com Kath & Kim
Dr Moore-Gilbert, an Islamic studies scholar, was freed last November in a prisoner swap deal after spending 804 days in an Iranian jail on spying charges, which she denies
They met a decade earlier when she visited Israel, where Mr Hodorov lived after emigrating from Russia with his family.
When he was arrested, Moore-Gilbert – who is also the cousin of Julian Assange – had been attending a conference in Iran when she was flagged as ‘suspicious’ by a fellow academic and by a subject she had interviewed for research.
She was subsequently tried and sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage, and held in Evin prison in solitary confinement. Iranian authorities reportedly tried to recruit her as a spy in exchange for her release, which she declined.
She was detained after suspicions were raised that she was a spy when it was discovered that she was married to an Israeli, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
While imprisoned Dr Moore-Gilbert was kept in a tiny cell in freezing temperatures and was subjected to psychological torture. She staged several hunger strikes, and in May 2020 her family denied reports she had attempted suicide.
Nick Warner, the head of Australia’s intelligence service, successfully negotiated a prison swap for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s freedom.
Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert was given a ten-year sentence but always denied the charges, that reportedly stemmed from the Iranian authorities’ belief that she was a spy for Israel because of her relationship with her husband – an Israeli citizen
She was exchanged for three Iranian prisoners in Thailand, two of whom had been convicted in connection with the 2012 Bangkok bomb plot.
He is understood to have spent months convincing officials in meetings and even at social functions to get the Thai prisoners released – who the Iranian government called ‘businessmen’.
Australia’s ambassador to Thailand, Allan McKinnon, also lobbied with Thai officials to release the three Iranian terrorists as an exchange for the Melbourne University lecturer.
Dr Moore-Gilbert and Dr Baxter are both experts in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Melbourne, where she teaches. Moore-Gilbert has carried out research into revolutions in the Middle East, particularly in Bahrain.
To this day, no evidence of her alleged crimes have been brought forward by Iran, and the Australian government has rejected them as ‘baseless and politically motivated’.
In December 2020, Western and Israeli media claimed Iran had launched a media misinformation campaign against Moore-Gilbert ‘accusing her of coordinating with a former Bahraini MP, Jasim Husain, to steal secrets for Israel’.
Husain was accused by Iran of teaching Moore-Gilbert Arabic and Persia, and offering to help her spy on Shia exiles in Iran.