British-Australian academic details Iran prison ordeal in 1st interview

Sydney, Australia, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- In her first interview since her release in November, British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has detailed how Iran attempted to recruit her as a spy and other aspects of her two-year imprisonment ordeal in the country.

Moore-Gilbert, who was a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in Iran in September 2018 while leaving the country after attending a conference. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage and maintained her innocence throughout.

“I knew that the reason that they didn’t engage in any meaningful negotiations with the Australians (for my release) was because they wanted to recruit me, they wanted me to work for them as a spy,” she said in an interview aired exclusively on Sky News late Tuesday.

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

Iran state media reported that Moore-Gilbert was exchanged for three Iranian prisoners, although the Australian government denies this.

She expressed frustration at Canberra’s strategy of quiet diplomacy regarding her case, which was published in the media a year after her arrest.

“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.

The British-Australian also described the “psychological torture” she was subjected to in a solitary cell in a prison in Tehran, where she suffered prolonged anxiety and panic attacks and even had suicidal thoughts.

“I felt if I have to endure another day of this, you know, if I could I would just kill myself. But of course I never tried and I never took that step,” Moore-Gilbert said.

“I was never physically tortured with the things you think about like pulling fingernails or being electrocuted – that never happened to me. But I was beaten up once and forcibly injected with a syringe of tranquillizer against my will and that was in early 2020,” she added.

Moore-Gilbert’s interview was aired during the same week that a British-Iranian woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was released after completing her five-year prison sentence on spying charges in Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked as a project manager for Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in 2016 when she was visiting family in Tehran. She had been under house arrest since March last year in the Iranian capital.

However, she has been summoned to court on another charge. EFE-EPA


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