No Australian prisoners released in deal to free Kylie Moore-Gilbert: PM
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says some prisoners may have been freed as part of Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert's release but that none were held in Australia.
The release of the Melbourne academic who had been held in Iran for two years reportedly involved the freeing of an Iranian man convicted of attempting to murder Israeli diplomats in Thailand, as well as an Iranian businessman.
Mr Morrison confirmed no prisoners held in Australia had been released.
"The Australian government doesn't acknowledge or confirm any such arrangement regarding any release of any other persons in any other places," Mr Morrison said.
"If other people have been released in other places, they are the decisions of the sovereign governments in those places.
"There are no people who have been held in Australia who have been released."
Mr Morrison said he was not aware of the Israeli government raising concerns about the reported prisoner swap.
"Where another sovereign state has made a decision about the release of prisoners, that is a matter for them," he said.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she refused to comment on diplomatic discussions with other governments.
Mr Morrison also said he was open to the idea of the incoming Biden administration in the US renegotiating the Iran nuclear agreement to deter the taking of westerners for 'hostage diplomacy'.
"We would welcome any improvements that would lead to the more lawful behaviour of states like Iran," Mr Morrison said.
Earlier Mr Morrison said he was "thrilled and relieved" by the news jailed Australian woman Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been released by Iran.
Mr Morrison told Today he spoke with Dr Moore-Gilbert shortly after Iranian authorities freed her.
"She is still processing, but I've got to say the sound of her voice and the tone of her voice was very uplifting, particularly given what she has been through. She is obviously still taking it all in, as you would expect," the Prime Minister said.
"I said before I believe in miracles…I tell you what, I just got another one."
Iranian state TV reported the Australian's release after more than two years in jail was part of an exchange for three Iranians held abroad.
Dr Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran's Evin Prison in September 2018 and sentenced to 10 years. She is one of several Westerners held in Iran on internationally criticised espionage charges that their families and rights groups say are unfounded.
Mr Morrison said her release after 804 days behind bars had been achieved through painstaking work by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officials and Australia's Ambassador to Iran.
"The skill and experience of the people who have been involved in working through these issues is extraordinary."
In a statement, Dr Moore-Gilbert thanked the Australian Government for helping to secure her release, and the people who campaigned for her freedom.
She described her two years in jail as a long and traumatic ordeal. She said she held respect for Iran despite the "injustices" of her incarceration.
"I came to your country as a friend and friendly intentions and depart Iran with those sentiments," Dr Moore-Gilbert said.
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.
Mr Morrison said Dr Moore-Gilbert had shown incredible mental and physical stamina.
"She is an extraordinary, strong and courageous and intelligent person. That's enabled her to get through this awful ordeal," he said.