Tehran frees Kylie Moore-Gilbert, convicted of espionage
The British-born Australian researcher was arrested at the airport in September 2018 after attending a conference. The 24 months in prison were "a long and traumatic ordeal" which was overcome thanks also to the support received from abroad. Release comes in exchange for three Iranians detained abroad.
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The first words of Kylie Moore-Gilbert on her release from Iran’s Qarchak prison yesterday were a "thank you" to all those who have supported her in these two years through "a long and traumatic ordeal". The British-born Australian scholar and university student spent more than 24 months in a cell following imprisonment on espionage charges which she has always denied.
According to the official Islamic Republic media her release was granted in exchange for Iranian prisoners - a businessman and two citizens - "who were detained abroad". At the moment there is no more information on the identity of the three, other than a short video of their arrival in the past few hours at the Tehran airport. One of the three is in a wheelchair, with both legs amputated.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert's arrest dates back to September 2018, while she was in the international airport of the Iranian capital waiting to board her flight after attending a conference. In a trial criticized by international activists and NGOs, the judges sentenced the woman to 10 years in prison for espionage.
In a statement released by the Australian Foreign Ministry, the expert Middle East scholar gives thanks for the "support" received in recent years, "what has mattered most in all this time". " "I have nothing but respect, love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people," she said. "It is with bittersweet feelings that I depart your country, despite the injustices which I have been subjected to. I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions, and depart Iran with those sentiments not only still intact, but strengthened."
The Moore-Gilbert family says they are "relieved and delighted" by her release. In August, relatives feared for her fate after she was transferred to the infamous Qarchak prison, where she went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions in the cell.
In recent years, the Revolutionary Guards (the Pasdaran) have arrested dozens of people with dual citizenship, most of them on charges of espionage. Human rights activists accuse Tehran of indicting innocent people with the sole aim of obtaining "concessions" from other nations. The Islamic Republic denies detaining men and women for "political crimes", but of prosecuting those who carry out hostile activities on its territory.