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British-Australian Academic Accused of Spying by Iran Freed in Reported Prisoner Swap Deal  

British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert is seen in Tehran, Iran, in this frame grab from Iranian state television video aired Nov. 25, 2020.

A British-Australian academic has been released from prison in Iran after more than two years. Kylie-Moore Gilbert was convicted on espionage charges, which she has always denied.

Moore-Gilbert, an academic at Melbourne University, was serving a 10-year sentence in Iran for spying. She was detained at Tehran airport in 2018 after attending a conference.

Accused of espionage, she was tried in secret and convicted. She has strongly denied all the charges against her.

Iranian state media said she was exchanged for an Iranian businessman and two Iranian citizens "who had been detained abroad.” It has been reported the men were linked to a plot to bomb Israeli diplomats in Bangkok in 2012. Australian officials have not commented publicly on reports of a prisoner swap.

In letters smuggled out of Tehran's Evin Prison earlier this year, the British-Australian academic said she had "never been a spy" and was concerned for her mental health.

Moore-Gilbert said in a statement that she still had “love and admiration” for the “warm-hearted, generous and brave people” of Iran. She added that it was “with bittersweet feelings that I depart your country, despite the injustices which I have been subjected to.”

She also thanked Australia for helping to secure her freedom.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said her release is long overdue.

“We are very happy; she is obviously very thrilled," he said. "She is processing it all as you would expect. She is on her way back to Australia and we put those arrangements in place for her transfer back to Australia. She is with Australian officials, who are giving her all the support she needs. There will be quite an adjustment for Kylie. She has gone through a terrible ordeal. The injustice of her detention and her conviction, Australia has always rejected.”

Iran has imprisoned several foreign nationals and Iranian dual citizens in recent years, many of them on charges of espionage.

Human rights groups have accused Tehran of using the cases to try to gain concessions from other countries.

Australia continues to warn its citizens against any travel to Iran because of a "high risk” of arbitrary arrests.