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Freed Australian academic describes ‘psychological torture’ in Iran

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, though thankful, criticised the Australian diplomacy response for the first time.

A British-Australian academic imprisoned by Iran on a spying conviction says 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 on spying charges, which she vehemently denied.

On Tuesday night, she for the first time questioned the government's approach to her release.

Dr Moore-Gilbert was freed in exchange for the release of three Iranians who were held in Thailand.

READ MORE: Kylie Moore-Gilbert faces challenging recovery, former prisoner says

But in an interview with Sky News, she said while she was thankful to the government for getting her out, the decision to keep her imprisonment secret was "against my wishes".

Dr Moore-Gilbert said there was "no way I would've got 10 years" if her ordeal was made public sooner and that she was better cared for after her case was publicised.

"I certainly saw benefits from that and I'm not convinced that the quiet diplomacy argument stacks up in such a case, although each case is different," she said.

At the time of her release, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it had been the result of painstaking work by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officials and Australia's Ambassador to Iran.

He praised the "extraordinary" skill and experience of those who worked to free Dr Moore-Gilbert.

Liberal MP Dave Sharma had earlier described the "delicate dance" involved in such matters.

"You don't want to offend [Iran's] dignity or criticise their own systems of government because if you do so, it actually makes it more difficult to have that person released," said the former diplomat, who was involved in lobbying for the academic's release.

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A DFAT spokesperson told The Sydney Morning Herald the department would not comment on the circumstances of Dr Moore-Gilbert's release.

"Every consular case is by its nature complex and is considered individually, with a strategy developed on a case-by-case basis," the spokesperson said.

In the end, Dr Moore-Gilbert's ordeal was not made public for a year after she was sentenced.

The Middle Eastern studies lecturer was picked up at 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.

Source: 9News

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