Kylie Moore Gilbert, in comments broadcast by CNN’s Sky News Australia on Tuesday, criticized the Australian government’s attempts to use “quiet diplomacy” to secure her release.
Moore-Gilbert told Sky News that the first room she was held in was a “square by two meters” without a toilet.
“I used to say (it’s) the extreme solitary confinement room designed to break you. It’s my own torture,” she said. “There were many times in that early period that I felt a breakdown, and I felt that if I had to put up with another day of this, you know, if I could kill myself.”
She said she was beaten once by prison guards and forcibly injecting a sedative against her will.
Moore-Gilbert said the allegations of her being a spy were “insane”. “There is no evidence that I am a spy for any country. Even the Revolutionary Guards could not determine which country I am supposed to be spying for,” she said in the interview.
She said that during her detention, the Iranian authorities also told her that they would release her if she agreed to spy on their behalf.
“I don’t think they were particularly interested in spying on Australia, they were more interested in using my academic situation as a cover story and traveling to other countries in the Middle East and maybe European countries, maybe America, I don’t know,” she said.
Criticism of “quiet diplomacy”
During her interview with Sky News, Moore Gilbert said that she learned while in prison that the media was aware of her situation but that the Australian government initially asked her not to report the story.
“The line the government has run is that trying to find a solution diplomatically behind the scenes with Iran was the best way to get me out,” she said. “And the media will complicate things and it can make Iran angry … and make things worse for me.”
Moore Gilbert said she is grateful to the Australian government for the assistance in her release from prison. However, she was not convinced that so-called quiet diplomacy was the right approach, because her status in prison improved after the press revealed her name in 2019.
“I noticed that more attention was being paid to my health and my conditions, so I definitely saw benefits from that. I am not convinced that the arguments for quiet diplomacy pile up in such a case, although each case is different,” she said.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was impressed by Moore Gilbert’s bravery, but there were events behind the scenes of her release that she was not aware of.
He said, “I am aware of these issues and have directly participated in many decisions, and in fact, all the decisions that ultimately ended in securing her release.”
“And I know Kylie Moore Gilbert appreciates that very much.”
In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they would not talk about “the circumstances of her release.”
The spokesman said: “Each consular case by its nature is complex and is considered separately, with the development of a strategy on a case-by-case basis.”