University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert celebrated her return to Australia with a coffee and Tim Tam after spending more than two years in an Iranian prison.
Dr Moore-Gilbert was met by public health officials and members of the Australian Defence Force after disembarking from a plane at Canberra Airport on Friday afternoon.
She was freed earlier this week in a reported prisoner swap deal after 804 days behind bars.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Dr Moore-Gilbert will have to quarantine before re-entering the community.
Sources told the Herald Sun Dr Moore-Gilbert celebrated her return home in an understated way.
Pictured: Health officials and the Australian Defence Force wait for Dr Moore-Gilbert to disembark jet
‘Kylie had her first decent cup of coffee in two years on the plane, and a Tim Tam,’ the source said.
She was seen walking across the tarmac before being escorted into a van on Friday afternoon.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer on Middle Eastern studies at Melbourne University, was arrested at Tehran’s airport in 2018 after attending an academic conference.
She was sent to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on espionage charges. She has always strenuously denied the charges.
Multiple diplomatic and senior government sources confirmed that Dr Moore-Gilbert was stopped at the airport in 2018 after authorities discovered she was in a relationship with an Israeli citizen, according to The Age.
She was freed after more than six months of high-level negotiations between Iran, Australia and Thailand, led by the chief of Australia’s intelligence community member Nick Warner.
Australian authorities, including Ms Payne who met her Iranian counterpart and discussed Dr Moore-Gilbert’s case on four occasions, pursued a strategy of ‘quiet diplomacy’.
Dr Moore-Gilbert flew into Canberra from the Middle East on Friday afternoon
Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert (pictured) was released in a reported prisoner swap deal early after spending two years in prison in Iran
Dr Moore-Gilbert is seen following her release from an Iranian prison
The country’s involved agreed not to publicly discuss the deal because of the sensitive diplomatic nature, however, a news website affiliated to state television in Iran first reported the prisoner swap.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday that he had spoken to Dr Moore-Gilbert and she was in good spirits.
The Australian government has refused to confirm that the academic’s freedom was extracted through a prisoner swap.
‘The Australian government doesn’t acknowledge or confirm any such arrangement regarding any release of any other persons in any other places,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
‘If other people are being released in other places, they are the decisions of the sovereign governments in those places.’
Iranian media claimed three of the country’s citizens were released on Thursday in exchange for Dr Gilbert-Moore.
Thailand said it had transferred three Iranians involved in a botched 2012 bomb plot back to Tehran, but declined to call it a swap.
Pictured: Dr Moore-Gilbert is escorted onto a van after getting off a plane in Canberra
Kylie Moore-Gilbert (pictured above) spent more than two years behind bars in Iran after she was imprisoned on espionage offences
Dr Moore-Gilbert’s family said they were ‘relieved and ecstatic’ while the lecturer herself expressed her ‘love and admiration for the great nation of Iran and its warm-hearted, generous and brave people’.
Despite her harrowing ordeal, Dr Moore-Gilbert refuses to blame Iran’s people for her wrongful imprisonment.
‘It is with bittersweet feelings that I depart your country, despite the injustices which I have been subjected to,’ she said.
‘I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions, and depart Iran with those sentiments not only still intact, but strengthened.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert (pictured) described her release as ‘bittersweet’ despite the injustices she was subjected to in Iran