Melbourne academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was imprisoned in Iran for more than 800 days, arrived home last year only to be dealt another crushing blow.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in 2018 during a trip to Iran after authorities accused her of being a spy and sentenced her to a 10-year prison sentence.
Despite continually denying the charges, the 33-year-old spent 804 days being moved around to some of Iran’s most notorious prisons.
She was released in November 2020 and finally returned to Australia after more than two years being locked up in horrific conditions and subject to psychological torture.
But just two days after returning home, Dr Moore-Gilbert discovered her Russian-Israeli husband, Ruslan Hodorov, had allegedly been having an affair with her colleague and PhD supervisor Dr Kylie Baxter, according to the Herald Sun.
Sources told the publication that some people close to the couple were aware of the alleged affair, which began about a year after her 2018 arrest, but Dr Moore-Gilbert and her family were kept in the dark.
Dr Moore-Gilbert and Mr Hodorov married in 2017, with the 33-year-old now reportedly filing for divorce.
Both Mr Hodorov, 31, and Dr Baxter, 43, campaigned for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release during her time in prison.
The University of Melbourne was made aware of Dr Baxter’s relationship with Mr Hodorov but said it would not comment on Dr Moore-Gilbert’s private life.
The identity of Dr Moore-Gilbert’s husband remained tightly guarded during her imprisonment given the sensitivities of her being married to an Israeli while being accused of being an Israeli spy by Iranian authorities.
Government sources confirmed the Iranians’ discovery she was in a relationship with an Israeli was the initial trigger for her arrest at Tehran airport.
Even while being imprisoned she defended her husband, with a letter smuggled out of jail from Dr Moore-Gilbert revealing authorities had tried to get her to trick her husband into coming to Israel.
“The Revolutionary Guard have imprisoned me in these terrible conditions for over nine months in order to extort me both personally and my government,” she wrote in the letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“They have also attempted to use me as a hostage in a diabolic plot to lure my husband, an Australian permanent resident (and soon to be now citizen) into joining me in an Iranian prison.”
Dr Moore-Gilbert was released in November last year as part of a prisoner-swap deal, with the academic thanking the Australian government and the support of the wider community throughout the horrific ordeal.
“To all of you who have supported me and campaigned for my freedom, it has meant the world to me to have you behind me throughout what has been a long and traumatic ordeal,” she said in a statement.
“I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people.
“It is with bittersweet feelings that I depart your country, despite the injustices I have been subjected to. I came to Iran as a friend, with friendly intentions.”
After she was freed, the 33-year-old became the subject of a new Iranian propaganda campaign, which served to push the lie that she and her husband were spies, the Herald Sun reported.
“Kylie received army training in this centre and in that year she was present in the office of the Central Studies known as Counter-Terrorism, which was connected to Herzliya,” one of the Farsi-language videos claimed.
“Herzliya is the name of an institute in Israel which, under the cover of a private research college, carries out many spying activities.
“After being recruited by the Israeli spying services, she succeeded in being accepted at the University of Cambridge in England.
“She also got her British citizenship.”
According to the propaganda videos posted on The Iranian-American Trial Lawyers Association’s Twitter account, Dr Moore-Gilbert’s husband was a refugee who sought asylum in Israel in the 1990s.
“He was also an officer in the Israeli army. Ruslan, Kylie’s husband, after a while started working in a spying establishment under the cover of an Australian company belonging to one of the members of the (Israeli) internal security services,” one of the videos falsely claims.
“Ruslan, through his manager, introduced Kylie to one of the officers in Mossad (the Israeli spy agency) by the name of Zoohar. He (Ruslan) sends an email to Kylie and mentions that she will meet with this security officer and discuss issues related to the Middle East.”
Both the couple and the Australian Government have repeatedly denied the false claims they were spies.