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Academic freed by Iran arrives back in Australia

November 27, 2020

Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has returned home after spending two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges. Her early release came as part of a reported prisoner swap.

 Kylie Moore-Gilbert
Image: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia/REUTERS

Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert arrived back home in Australia on Friday after Iran released her early from prison, where she had been serving a 10-year sentence on spying charges. 

Public broadcaster ABC said Moore-Gilbert landed in the capital, Canberra, in the evening local time.

Moore-Gilbert, 33, who has denied the espionage allegations made against her, spent more than 800 days in jail following her arrest in 2018 after attending an academic conference in the holy city of Qom.

Her early release was seemingly secured as part of a prisoner swap, with three Iranians freed who were linked to a failed plot to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Thailand in 2012.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert being released
Iranian authorities had detained Moore-Gilbert after discovering she was in a relationship with an Israeli citizenImage: Iranian State Television/AP/dpa/picture alliance

'Warm-hearted, generous and brave'

On being freed, Moore-Gilbert issued a statement in which she praised the "warm-hearted, generous and brave" Iranian people despite what she described as a "long and traumatic ordeal."

The Thai government has confirmed returing the three Iranians to their homeland. However, it did not explicitly link the tranfers with Moore-Gilbert's release. Australia has said it did not release any prisoners.

Iran is still holding a number of other foreign nationals prisoner amid widespread concern from human rights groups that the country is using them as bargaining chips to promote its own interests.

tj/rt (AFP, AP)