Freed Academic Describes ‘Psychological Torture’ in Iran

CANBERRA, Australia -

A British-Australian academic imprisoned by Iran on a spying conviction said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that she endured “psychological torture” during her more than two years behind bars.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies, returned to Australia in November after serving 804 days of a 10-year sentence. She was freed in exchange for the release of three Iranians who were held in Thailand.

The discovery that she had an Israeli husband led to Iranian authorities stopping her at Tehran’s airport as she was about to leave the country in 2018 after attending an academic conference. A court sentenced her to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage for Israel and sent her to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. She vehemently denied the charges and maintained her innocence, the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

Iran attempted to lure her husband to Tehran, the Australian Herald Sun reported in February.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, she wrote: “They have also attempted to use me as a hostage in a diabolical plot to lure my husband, an Australian permanent resident into joining me in an Iranian prison.”

“It’s extreme solitary confinement room designed to break you. It’s psychological torture. You go completely insane. It is so damaging. I would say I felt physical pain from the psychological trauma I had in that room. It’s 2-meter by 2-meter box,” Moore-Gilbert told Sky News.

“There were a few times in that early period that I felt broken,” she added.

Reporting by the Associated Press.