‘I wanted to die’: Academic imprisoned in Iran recounts psychological torture

Moore-Gilbert said that the experience had pushed her to seriously consider ending her own life.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An Australian-British academic who was imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges said that the intense psychological torture she endured during her incarceration nearly drove her to suicide.

During an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, Kylie Moore-Gilbert said she was kept in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for seven months, in a tiny cell that was “designed to break you.”

“It’s psychological torture. You go completely insane. It is so damaging,” she said. “I would say I felt physical pain from the psychological trauma I had in that room. It is a two-by-two meter box – there is no toilet, there is no television.”

Moore-Gilbert, a Melbourne University lecturer who had traveled to the Islamic Republic for an academic conference, was arrested by Iranian security services and sentenced to 10 years in prison in September 2018.

The Iranian government claimed that Moore-Gilbert, who is married to Israeli citizen Ruslan Hodorov and spent time in Israel studying Hebrew, was spying for the Jewish State — charges that she vehemently denies.

She said that the experience had pushed her to seriously consider ending her own life.

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“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,” she said.

Moore-Gilbert said that the Iranian government attempted multiple times to recruit her as a spy, promising that she’d be released if she promised to work for Iranian intelligence.

“I knew the reason they didn’t engage in any meaningful negotiations with the Australians was because they wanted to recruit me,” she said.

“They wanted me to work for them as a spy [and said] that if I cooperated with them and agreed to become a spy for them they would free me … that I could win my freedom [and] make a deal with them.”

During her 804 days behind bars, Moore-Gilbert said she went on a hunger strike and was beaten by prison guards.

In November 2020, she was released after three Iranian nationals, who had been convicted of planning an attack on the Israeli embassy in Bangkok, were released from a Thai prison.