British-Australian lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held captive for more than two years under espionage charges, has been released by Iran in an exchange for three Iranian prisoners. 33-year-old Moore-Gilbert is an academic on Middle Eastern studies at the University of Melbourne. After being found guilty of espionage last year, the lecturer was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.
In a statement, Dr Moore-Gilbert expressed gratitude to the Australian government and people who had stood up and campaigned for her release, mentioning the past two years and three months of her being imprisoned as “a long and traumatic ordeal.” Despite being held there since 2018 and injustice experienced, Moore-Gilbert describes her departure from Iran as “bittersweet.”
According to a statement released by the Australian government, Moore-Gilbert said, “I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people.” As per the Young Journalists Club (YJC) report – an Iranian state-backed news agency, the academic’s release was a swap for three Iranian businessmen held abroad for allegedly eluding US sanctions imposed on Iran. The agency, however, did not shed light on the identities of the released people. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a press conference held on Thursday termed Moore-Gilbert’s freedom a “miracle.”
“I have always believed in miracles and I’m just thankful for this one as well. To see Kylie coming home,” Morrison said. In a statement released by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne read that she was “extremely pleased and relieved” to see Moore-Gilbert being freed. “The Australian Government has consistently rejected the grounds on which the Iranian government arrested, detained and convicted Dr Moore-Gilbert. We continue to do so,” she said.