Freed academic describes 'psychological torture' in Iran

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In this image made from video, Kylie Moore Gilbert, British-Australian academic detained in Iran, speaks during an interview with broadcaster Sky News Australia, on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Moore-Gilbert said in a television interview broadcast on Tuesday that she endured psychological torture during more than two years in Iran prisons. (Sky News Australia via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A British-Australian academic imprisoned by Iran on a spying conviction said in a television interview broadcast Tuesday that she endured “psychological torture” during her more than two years behind bars.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, 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.

“It’s extreme solitary confinement room designed to break you. Its’ 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. I felt if I had to endure another day of this, you know, if I could I’d just kill myself. But of course, I never tried and I never took that step,” she added.

Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was picked up at the Tehran airport as she tried to leave the country after attending an academic conference in 2018. She was sent to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, convicted of spying and sentenced to 10 years. She vehemently denied the charges and maintained her innocence.