British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert released after years jailed in Iran

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By Euronews  with AP
British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been freed by Iran in a prisoner swap
British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been freed by Iran in a prisoner swap   -  Copyright  Iranian State Television via AP

A British-Australian academic who was jailed in Iran on disputed espionage charges has been released in a prisoner swap.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert had been detained in Iran for more than two years, after being sentenced to 10 years following her arrest there in 2018.

Iranian state TV reported late on Wednesday she was being released in exchange for three Iranians who had been detained for trying to bypass sanctions.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Moore-Gilbert was on her way to Australia, telling the Australian Nine Network's Today program he was "thrilled and relieved”.

Moore-Gilbert, 33, was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran's Evin Prison in September 2018.

She is one of several Westerners held in Iran on internationally criticised espionage charges that their families and rights groups say are unfounded.

Iranian State TV aired video showing her with a grey hijab and wearing a blue face mask while sitting at what appeared to be a greeting room at one of Tehran's airports

The footage showed three men with Iranian flags over their shoulders — those freed in exchange for her release.

State TV earlier described them as "economic activists," without elaborating.

International pressure on Iran to secure her release has escalated in recent months following reports that her health was deteriorating during long stretches of solitary confinement and that she had been transferred to the notorious Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran.

Moore-Gilbert has gone on hunger strikes and pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her.

Those pleas included writing to the prime minister that she had been subjected to "grievous violations" of her rights, including psychological torture and solitary confinement.

Her detention has further strained relations between Iran and the West, which reached a nadir this year following the American killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad and retaliatory Iranian strikes on a US military base.