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The New Arab Staff

British-Iranian academic released from Iran prison recounts 'suicidal thoughts'

Kylie Moore-Gilbert was detained on spying charges [Sky News Australia]

Date of publication: 9 March, 2021

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Former Iran detainee Kylie Moore-Gilbert has opened up about her harrowing seven-month ordeal in solitary confinement.

A British-Australian academic who was imprisoned in Iran for two years on spying charges has said she contemplated suicide during her time in detention, as she held her first interview since her release last November.

Kylie Moore Gilbert, an Islamic Studies lecturer detained in Iran in 2018 on espionage charges, spoke to Sky News Australia where she recounted her seven-month stint in solitary confinement.

She described the ordeal in detention as "psychological torture" which triggered suicidal thoughts.

Her Iran cell measured 2 metres by 2 metres, with the lights glaring all day and no form of communication with the outside world other than a telephone to speak with prison guards

"You go completely insane. It is so damaging. I felt physical pain," she said.

"At first I couldn't eat anything and I couldn't sleep. My emotional state was so volatile, I was so anxious, my heart beating was always beating heavily, I was basically having a prolonged anxiety attack or panic attack."

Moore-Gilbert was handed a 10-year prison sentence in a secret trial after spending nine months in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

She told Sky News that her anger at the fabricated charges spurred a will to 'fight on'. She staged a series of hunger strikes and even attempted a daring prison escape.

"One day I was just like, You know what? I'm going to do it. I have nothing to lose," Moore-Gilbert said, describing her escape attempt.

"There were spikes on part of the wall, so I just took some socks with me and put them over my hands and then grabbed onto them, hoping they weren't too sharp."

She managed to make her way to the roof, finding herself in a position to descend the prison walls but quickly changed her mind due to her prison clothing and inability to speak the local language.

Read also: Iran accuses Kylie Moore-Gilbert of spying for Israel with help of Bahraini ex-MP

Moore Gilbert returned to Australia late last year following a prisoner swap involving three convicted Iranian terrorists.

The British-Australian academic also said she turned down multiple requests by Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps to work as a spy as a 'secret' precondition for her release.

She said that this was a reason Iran "didn't engage in any meaningful negotiations" with Australia during her time in prison.

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