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Academic Released by Iran Returns to Australia

Academic Released by Iran Returns to Australia

Friday, 27 November, 2020 - 08:45
Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic released after two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges, returned to Australia on Friday.

Moore-Gilbert touched down at an airport in the capital Canberra.

She was met by public health officials and members of the Australian Defense Force after leaving her plane.

Her arrival took place away from public spotlight, with the Australian government saying the 33-year-old had requested privacy as she comes to terms with her ordeal.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said Moore-Gilbert will have to undergo quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.

She was released on Wednesday after what she called two "traumatic" years behind bars, in a swap for three Iranians linked to a botched Bangkok bomb plot.

A government jet flew into Canberra on Friday evening from an airbase on the country's west coast, where it is believed Moore-Gilbert was transferred from her initial flight out of Iran.

She was arrested by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2018, after attending an academic conference in Qom in central Iran.

She was later charged with espionage and sentenced to ten years in jail, allegations she has denied.

"I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions," she said in a statement on her release, praising the "warm-hearted, generous and brave" Iranian people, despite what she called a "long and traumatic ordeal.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday he was “thrilled and relieved” that Moore-Gilbert had been released but added that it would take time for her to process her “horrible” ordeal.

“The tone of her voice was very uplifting, particularly given what she has been through,” Morrison told Australia’s Network Nine.

Her release was secured as part of a prisoner swap for three men: Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, Mohammad Khazaei and wheelchair-bound Saeid Moradi, who blew off his own legs with homemade explosives.

All three were linked to a failed plot to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Thailand in 2012.

The Thai government confirmed Thursday it had returned the three Iranians, two as prisoners and a third who was granted a royal pardon in August.

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