Australia mum on doable swap of detainees with Iran


An Australian travel-blogging couple who were last month revealed to be detained in Iran have been released, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Saturday. The couple were arrested in Tehran three months ago over unauthorized drone flying and were held in the Evin prison since then.

She described Dr Moore-Gilbert's situation as "very complex".

The couple said in a statement issued through the foreign ministry that they were "extremely happy and relieved to be safely back" home.

"While it is likely that because of Mr Kivi's nationality some will speculate regarding this matter, consistent with prior practice I do not intend to comment further on the particular details of this case", he said in a statement.

She also confirmed British-Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert was still in Tehran's notorious Evin prison where she has been for nearly a year, having reportedly been handed a 10-year sentence.

During his bail hearing previous year, his lawyer told Brisbane Magistrates Court he was studying his PhD at UQ, and was working on developing a machine to detect skin cancer.

An Iranian state channel showed footage of what it said was Dehbashi arriving at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport and hugging a tearful woman apparently from his family.

Payne said King and Firkin were in good health and good spirits, and had requested privacy.

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Payne has maintained the cases of those detained were not related to diplomatic tensions.

According to Australia's ABC News, the 38-year-old Dehbashi Kivi was arrested in September of 2018 on accusations of sending American equipment for stealth planes or missiles to Iran.

However, that announcement is believed to have come after the arrests.

At the same time, Iran's state TV reported that an Iranian scientist, Reza Dehbashi, who was detained for 13 months in Australia for purchasing a defense system for his country from the United States, had returned home.

Australia has rejected a USA extradition request for an Iranian student who had been accused of conspiring to smuggle electronic military devices to his homeland.

They had been held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran since early July.

On Friday it was announced that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe would allow her daughter Gabriella, five, to return to the United Kingdom to begin schooling.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe has also been separated from her daughter while in custody.