Kylie Moore-Gilbert says she was subjected to psychological torture in Iranian prison

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Evin Prison

Evin Prison

Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert says she was beaten and injected with a tranquiliser while being held in an Iranian jail for more than two years.

She has also revealed she once escaped onto the roof of the prison where she was being held to protest against her mistreatment by Iranian authorities.

And she has cast doubt on the Australian government’s strategy to keep her case out of the media for more than a year after her arrest, suggesting that widespread publicity might have helped release her earlier.

Dr Moore-Gilbert has revealed the new details of her ordeal in an interview with Sky News — the first she has given since being freed from prison late last year.

The academic says she harboured suicidal thoughts during the first four weeks of her arrest when she was placed in “extreme” solitary confinement.

She has accused the Iranian government of deliberately mistreating her in an effort to “break” her.

“It’s psychological torture. You go completely insane. It is so damaging” she said.

“I felt physical pain from the psychological trauma I had in that room. It is a two by two metre box … there is no toilet, there is no television,” she said.

Dr Moore-Gilbert said she was never physically tortured, but two prison guards once beat her after she tried to get a letter out of the prison. She says she was also injected with a tranquiliser against her will.

“The guard went crazy because she knew she would be punished. So she called a male colleague of hers and both of them assaulted me,” she said.

‘Quiet diplomacy’ not the best idea

Dr Moore-Gilbert also revealed she repeatedly urged her family and the government to publicise her case in the months following her arrest, but they ignored her wishes.

“The line being run by the government was that trying to find a solution diplomatically behind the scenes with Iran was the best approach for getting me out, and that the media would complicate things and could make Iran angry and piss them off, and make things worse for me,” she said.

She has not directly criticised her family for embracing that logic, and she has heaped praise on the federal government for its work in eventually freeing her.

But Dr Moore-Gilbert also said she was never convinced by the argument that it was better to resolve her case quietly.

“When it did become public, I did notice that [there was] much greater attention to my health and condition. So I certainly saw benefits from that,” she said.

“The line being run by the government was that trying to find a solution diplomatically behind the scenes with Iran was the best approach for getting me out, and that the media would complicate things and could make Iran angry and piss them off, and make things worse for me,” she said.

She has not directly criticised her family for embracing that logic, and she has heaped praise on the federal government for its work in eventually freeing her.

But Dr Moore-Gilbert also said she was never convinced by the argument that it was better to resolve her case quietly.

“When it did become public, I did notice that [there was] much greater attention to my health and condition. So I certainly saw benefits from that,” she said.

“I was able to walk all over the way to the end of the complex and see over the wall of the prison off into the residential neighbourhood nearby,” she said.

“There was a little river, a little forest. I could have climbed down from the roof from a nearby tree and made my way across to the river. It was a very shallow river. I might have been able to cross it and get into the residential neighbourhood.”

But she said while she contemplated an escape, she never went through with it.

“Where would I have gone? What would I have done?” she said.

“I didn’t speak the language, I was in a prison uniform … I didn’t have any money.

“And if they’d caught me it would have been really serious.”

Iran’s spy tactic

Dr Moore-Gilbert also confirmed that she had repeatedly rejected attempts by Iran’s government to recruit her as a spy.

“(They said) that if I cooperated with them and agreed to become a spy for them they would free me,” she said.

“I knew the reason they didn’t engage in any meaningful negotiations with (the Australian Government) was because they wanted to recruit me.”

Dr Moore-Gilbert said the Iranian government wanted her to use her academic credentials as a “cover story” so she could collect information in both Middle Eastern and Western countries.

The interview did not broach the prisoner swap which led to Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release. She was let out of jail after three Iranians convicted of a 2012 bombing attack in Bangkok were freed from prison in Thailand and permitted to return home.

The academic said she was would love to write a book about her experience, and was feeling “optimistic” about the future.

But she also conceded it would take time for her to recover from her ordeal.

“I don’t know if I feel safe, even now, ” she said.

“Right now I just want to focus on healing, recovery, rest.”

Source » abc

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