• Sat. Oct 22nd, 2022

In her first criticism of the government’s approach to freeing her from detention in Iran, the Australian academic says there’s “no way” she would have got 10 years’ jail if her ordeal had been made public.

Mar 9, 2021

She said once her case received publicity much greater attention was paid to my health and my condition.
I certainly saw benefits from that [publicity] and Im not convinced that the quiet diplomacy argument stacks up in such a case, although each case is different, she said in the interview, which aired on Tuesday night.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said her situation was made public only after two Australian video bloggers, Mark Firkin and Jolie King, were detained nearly 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.
I took a very different view of the situation based on my own ­experience being inside there.
But that was the view of the government and the media played ball for months, at least at the be­ginning, until I think these two backpackers got arrested and the media already knew my name and knew I was there too.
Asked to respond to Dr Moore-Gilberts comments, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was very pleased that Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert returned to Australia in November last year following more than two years of detention in Iran.
Every consular case is by its nature complex and is considered individually, with a strategy developed on a case-by-case basis. We will not comment on the circumstances of her release.
Dr Moore-Gilbert also opened up about her treatment inside Evin Prison, where she was forced to endure four weeks of solitary confinement in a small room without a window.
I would say 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.
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.
Its psychological torture. You go completely insane. It is so damaging.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she was interrogated by Irans Revolutionary Guards, but towards the end they wouldnt come every day, meaning she didnt see anyone and had nothing to do.
Id lost it, Id lost the plot. I was completely crazy. Just entertaining your brain for such a long period of time, she said.
She was then moved to larger room and spent seven months in solitary confinement in total.
Dr Moore-Gilbert revealed the person who flagged her to authorities was a man she had interviewed for her research days prior. She said she would never know why the man referred her to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
Its either because he was working for the Revolutionary Guards from the beginning and flagged me as suspicious, or he was arrested by them after I had interviewed him, she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she had been nervous the previous two days before she arrived at Tehran Airport to fly back to Australia because of something a receptionist at the hotel had told her.
The receptionist in my hotel had pulled me aside and said Kylie some men have here asking about you, she said.
And I said What do you mean, what type of men, who are these people? He said They are very bad men.
Iranian authorities detained Dr Moore-Gilbert after discovering she was married to an Israeli citizen, sparking baseless claims she was a spy for Israel.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age was asked numerous times by the Australian government not to report details about the citizenship of Dr Moore-Gilberts husband while she was detained, believing it would jeopardise the chances of freeing her.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she was also accused of being a spy for Australia, Britain and Bahrain.
She confirmed she was asked by Iranian authorities to become a spy for Iran.
Dr Moore-Gilbert came home to discover her husband Ruslan Hodorov had been having an affair with her colleague and PhD supervisor.
She said she hadnt spoken to her husband or the colleague, who was acting as a liaison between the University of Melbourne and her family while she was detained.
She revealed she found out about the affair while she was in hotel quarantine in Canberra, saying her husband confirmed it to her family a day prior.
I knew that it [the marriage] wasnt in the same state that it was when I left. I knew that there was a problem at least 12 months before I came home, she said.
My mother told me when I arrived in hotel quarantine. She found out the day before from a third person, a third party … My family found out and called [him], and he confirmed it.
She is filing for divorce.
Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au).
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Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.