Australian academic freed in Iran hails end of 'traumatic ordeal'

Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert had been serving a 10-year sentence for spying.
Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert had been serving a 10-year sentence for spying.PHOTO: AFP/IRIB NEWS AGENCY

SYDNEY (AFP, REUTERS) - Freed Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert on Thursday (Nov 26) said her release from jail in Iran ended a "long and traumatic ordeal," thanking those who campaigned for her freedom.

Ms Moore-Gilbert said the support she received while detained "had meant the world to me" and praised the government for "working tirelessly" on her behalf, according to a statement released by Australia's foreign ministry.

The academic said she had "nothing but respect, love and admiration" for Iran and its people - despite spending two years and three months in prison on spying charges that she has strenuously denied.

"It is with bittersweet feelings that I depart your country, despite the injustices which I have been subjected to," she said.

"I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions, and depart Iran with those sentiments not only still intact, but strengthened."

She said she now faces a "challenging period of adjustment".

Ms Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne who is in her early 30s, had been serving a 10-year sentence for spying.

Iran confirmed her arrest in September 2019 but it had long been believed she was detained a year earlier.

The Islamic republic said Wednesday she had been released in a prisoner exchange but there was no immediate confirmation of the identity of the three Iranians reportedly involved.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday he had spoken with Ms Moore-Gilbert ahead of her return. 

"I have always believed in miracles and I’m just thankful for this one," Mr Morrison told reporters. 

"She seems to be in our own conversations, in quite good spirits, but I imagine there is a lot of processing to go through yet."

Once Ms Moore-Gilbert arrives in Australia, she will quarantine in an unspecified location for two weeks.