Latest News

“The Australian Government Must Do More,” Says Peter Greste

As Kylie Moore-Gilbert reaches her third year behind bars in Iran

Jailed Melbourne lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert reached a dreaded milestone last week: the start of her third year behind bars in Iran.

Australian journalist Peter Greste, famously jailed in Egypt six years ago while working as a foreign correspondent, says such a milestone would be of huge significance to Kylie, 33, who is serving a ten year jail term after being convicted of espionage – a charge she denies.

“Marking two years behind bars would be a big deal for Kylie. In prison, the one thing you’re always noting is the passage of time,” Greste reflects.

“Marking time becomes a bit of an obsession; whether it’s the hours or the minutes, or longer,” adds Greste, who is now working at the University of Queensland as UNESCO Chair in Journalism.

“And as time ticks past, you reflect on the seasons, the anniversaries, and all the moments you’re missing out on, the family events in your life.”

RELATED: Friends And Family Of Jailed Academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert Fight For Her Release

Like Kylie, who was arrested during a short study trip to Iran in August 2018, Greste was sentenced to a long jail term abroad, convicted of a crime nobody believed he was guilty of.

Sentenced to jail for seven years after being arrested in Cairo accused of “falsifying news,” he was released in February 2015 after spending more than a year in prison.

He’s acutely aware of the struggles that Kylie would be enduring each day.

“In prison, I realised very quickly I had the basics needed for physical survival: food, water and shelter. It’s mental survival you have to focus on. The whole point of prison is to mess with your head; it’s first and foremost a psychological prison.”

In the quest to stay occupied, he and other inmates would create wall murals out of aluminium foil and play memory games.

“We also made backgammon out of bottle tops. We were deliberately creative; forcing ourselves to spend time every day doing these kinds of things; we recognised it was a part of keeping sane.”

Greste was heartened at the news that Kylie is reportedly keeping fit by managing to run each day in prison, which prompted her friends and supporters to mark the two year anniversary of her imprisonment with a “Run With Kylie” event in her home town of Bathurst last weekend.

“If Kylie has found a way to run in prison, that’s a very positive sign,” says Greste.

He is one of the growing chorus of voices pushing for the Australian government to do more to ensure Kylie – is released.

“Of course DFAT had to work through their diplomatic channels privately and quietly – but after two years, this approach hasn’t got us anywhere. I also think that public pressure is absolutely vital.”

Greste is disappointed the government has not taken former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop up on her offer to help negotiate with Iranian officials to try to secure Kylie’s release.

“I was impressed at how Julie Bishop handled my own case. She extremely capable, is well known, well connected and respected internationally – and she’s experienced. Besides which, being no longer in government, she also has the ability to move in ways that members of the government do not.”

Bishop, who forged close ties with powerful Iranians during her time as Minister, recently confirmed to Marie Claire that the government had not asked her to assist.

“My heart goes out to Ms Moore-Gilbert and her family, as she deals with this terrible situation.. The government would be aware of my offer to assist and I am confident they would take that up should it be deemed as potentially helpful.”

marie claire contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) asking about Bishop’s offer to help, but received no reply.

Peter Greste says it’s important Australians show the government they want more to be done to get her freed.

“This makes a difference. Yes, they keep saying Kylie’s case is ‘of the highest priority’, but they tend to take it much more seriously when there’s more public pressure.

“So I’d urge everyone wanting to support Kylie, to get on Twitter, or Facebook or contact politicians and keep speaking up about her.”

He believes it was his own family’s decision to speak publicly when he was behind bars that eventually spurred his release. “The Australian public didn’t so much fall for me – a man in a cage far away – they fell in love with my mum and dad and their plight. If they hadn’t gone public I think I’d still be in jail today.”

While Kylie’s family have not yet spoken publicly about her case, DFAT recently released a statement, in which her family says, “We thank the Federal Government for its continued and persistent efforts to bring Kylie home, and we thank the Australian public for their continued support and concern. We all want the same thing, which is Kylie’s safe return soon. We are very grateful for the privacy that has been shown to our family and hope that it continues.”

For suggested ways to help Kylie visit or email [email protected].

Related stories