SYDNEY (Reuters) – A British-Australian academic who was freed from Iranian jail on Thursday was detained in 2018 on espionage charges after authorities there found her partner was an Israeli citizen, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a specialist in Middle East politics at the University of Melbourne, was released from prison in exchange for three Iranians who had been detained abroad, Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB reported.
Australia and Iran took more than six months to come to an agreement for a prisoner-swap deal for Moore-Gilbert, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, the Sydney Morning Herald said, citing unidentified sources.
The prisoner exchange deal – which Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday repeatedly declined to comment on – also involved high-level negotiations with the Thailand government, the report said.
Thai authorities disclosed three Iranians who were arrested in 2012 had been deported and sent to Iran. The New York Times reported the three Iranians had been held in Thailand over a bomb plot.
Australia and Moore-Gilbert have rejected Iran’s allegations that she was working as a spy for Israel.
Australia’s foreign affairs ministry declined to comment on the report citing privacy reasons for Moore-Gilbert and her family, while the Israeli Embassy in Australia did not respond to requests seeking comments.
Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Lincoln Feast.