SYDNEY, Australia — An Australian-British academic released after two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges said she thanked supporters from the “bottom of my heart” Tuesday, saying they helped her through a “never-ending, unrelenting nightmare.”
In her first statement since arriving back in Australia, Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert said she was “totally blown away” by efforts from friends and family to secure her release.
“I honestly have no words to express the depth of my gratitude and how touched I am,” the 33-year-old said.
“It gave me so much hope and strength to endure what had seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare. My freedom truly is your victory. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”
Moore-Gilbert was released last week after 804 days behind bars in a swap for three Iranians linked to a botched plot to kill Israeli officials in Bangkok.
She was arrested by Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2018, after attending an academic conference in the holy city of Qom in central Iran.
Last week Australian media reported that Moore-Gilbert was detained after Iranian authorities found out she has an Israeli partner.
Fairfax Media said the discovery of Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s Israeli boyfriend led to Iranian authorities stopping her at Tehran’s airport as she prepared to leave the country.
Authorities sentenced her to 10 years in prison for espionage. The Australian government and Moore-Gilbert rejected the allegations as baseless.
In Bangkok, Thai officials said last week they transferred three Iranians involved in a botched 2012 bomb plot back to Tehran. While they declined to call it a swap and Iran referred to the men as “economic activists,” the arrangement freed Moore-Gilbert and saw the three men, who were linked to a wider bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats, return home to a hero’s welcome.