Australia

'My freedom is your victory': Kylie Moore-Gilbert thanks supporters after her Iranian prison 'nightmare'

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, pictured at Doha airport soon after her release. Source: Twitter / Free Kylie Moore-Gilbert

The British-Australian academic, who arrived in Australia on Friday, said the support she received gave her strength to endure 'what seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare'.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert has thanked her friends and supporters for their "incredible efforts" in campaigning for her release from an Iranian prison. 

The 33-year-old British-Australian touched down in Canberra on Friday afternoon following her release earlier in the week.

She had served two years and three months of a 10-year prison sentence after being arrested on allegations of spying, which she and the Australian government have strenuously denied. 

In a statement posted online on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Moore-Gilbert said she was blown away by the support she has received. 

"To my dear friends and supporters, I honestly do not know where to start or how I can ever thank you for all your incredible efforts to campaign for my release," she wrote in a statement posted on the 'Free Kylie Moore-Gilbert' account run by friends and colleagues. 

"I am totally blown away by everything you have done for me, I honestly have no words to express the depth of my gratitude and how touched I am.

"I can't tell you how heartening it was to hear that my friends and colleagues were speaking up and hadn't forgotten me." 

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Dr Moore-Gilbert said the support she received gave her hope and strength to endure what "seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare". 

"My freedom is truly your victory. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!"

The statement was accompanied with a photo of Dr Moore-Gilbert taken at Doha airport in Qatar shortly after her release. 

"In the end, love was enough," the group wrote. "She's safe and home. Bless you all." 

The Australian government has refused to confirm that the academic's freedom was extracted through a prisoner swap.

"The Australian government doesn't acknowledge or confirm any such arrangement regarding any release of any other persons in any other places," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra last Thursday.

"If other people are being released in other places, they are the decisions of the sovereign governments in those places."

Iranian media claimed three of the country's citizens were released on Thursday in exchange for Dr Moore-Gilbert. Thailand said it had transferred three Iranians involved in a botched 2012 bomb plot back to Tehran, but declined to call it a swap.

Dr Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer on Middle Eastern studies at Melbourne University, was arrested at Tehran's airport in 2018 after attending an academic conference and was sent to Tehran's notorious Evan prison. 

In recent months, she was transferred to the remote Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran, as fears escalated over the spread of the coronavirus in the country's notoriously crowded prisons.

Shortly after her release, Dr Moore-Gilbert said it was bittersweet to depart Iran, despite the injustices she was subjected to.

"I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people," 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."'

With additional reporting by AAP. 

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