Iran announced British-Australian academician Kylie Moore-Gilbert on Wednesday in an exchange of three prisoners for Iran.
Moore-Gilbert, 33, one of the country’s most prominent Western prisoners, has been jailed for more than two years on espionage charges.
In his statement, he praised the people of Iran and thanked those who worked for his release.
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“I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and courageous people,” Moore-Gilbert said, according to The Guardian. “I am leaving his country with bittersweet emotions, despite suffering injustices.”
“I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions, and I am leaving Iran not only intact but also strengthened,” he continued.
Moore-Gilbert was hired and arrested at Tehran Airport as a lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Melbourne when he tried to leave the country after attending a 2018 scientific conference. He was convicted in secret and sentenced to 10 years in prison for crimes he said he never committed.
“I’m an innocent woman,” she wrote to prison authorities last year, the news agency reported. “[And] I was imprisoned for a crime I did not commit and for which there is no real evidence. “
“I am not a spy. I was never a spy and was not interested in working for a spy organization in any country. When I leave Iran, I want to be a free woman and live a free life, not in the shadow of blackmail and threats, ”she continued.
The Iranians released in Moore-Gilbert’s mind were called “economic activists” by Iranian state television, who were imprisoned for trying to circumvent the country’s sanctions, although the report could not be further detailed. They wore Iranian flags on their shoulders and their clothes were apparently designed to hide their identities.
The footage showed Moore-Gilbert sitting in a gray hijab in the apparent welcome room at Tehran Mehrabad International Airport before later boarding an Australian-flagged aircraft.
He was one of a number of Westerners in Iran who have been widely criticized on charges of espionage and who activists and UN investigators say is a systematic effort to advance their imprisonment for money or influence in negotiations with the West, which Iran denies.
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Moore-Gilbert wrote in a letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that he had been jailed for “extorting” the Australian government.
Morrison said this week that it was “excitement and relief” that Moore-Gilbert would return home after 804 days in detention. Although he did not go into details, the Prime Minister told the Australian Network Nine that nothing had been done to violate Australian security and that no prisoners had been released in his home country.
Australian Foreign Secretary Marise Payne has described her release as an “absolute priority” for the government and wished her a good journey back to Australia. The remark followed Moore-Gilbert on several hunger strikes while in prison and begging the Australian government for more. to release him during his detention.
Moore-Gilbert, who was transferred to Qarchak Prison in July, a remote prison known to be holding political prisoners in the country, wrote that he was “subjected to psychological torture and spent in solitary confinement for a longer period of time.”
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“There is no doubt that as soon as he recovers, he will rely on the same strength and determination that helped him get through his detention,” Payne said.
Fox News Stephen Sorace and the Associated Press contributed to this report.