Australian academic Kylie-Moore Gilbert has revealed how singing ‘terrible pop music’ helped keep her sane during solitary confinement in an Iranian prison.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, 33, was held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for 804 days after being arrested on spying charges when she tried to fly out of the city in late 2018.
Seven months of her detention was spent alone in a freezing cell with no access to daylight or distractions.
The 33-year-old revealed she tried yoga and meditation to entertain herself, but found singing was her greatest relief from the ongoing stress.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, said she would sing during her seven months in solitary confindment
‘I would sing. Sing whatever songs came into my head. And I’m a terrible singer. I feel sorry for the other prisoners who were there and having to be subjected to me,’ she said in an interview set to air on Sky News tonight.
Dr Moore said her songs would also unknowingly lift the spirits of fellow prisoners.
‘I heard from some of them later that they’d heard me singing in English, you know terrible 90s pop music in English, for two hours each night to try and entertain my brain.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert was eventually released in exchange for three Iranian prisoners being held abroad on November 26 last year.
But she has claimed her Iranian captors repeatedly tried to turn her into a double agent and do their bidding across Europe and the US.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she slept on a stained carpet and was given three thin blankets that were used by other prisoners
The 33-year-old academic (pictured) revealed she tried yoga and meditation to entertain herself, but found singing was her greatest relief
The academic said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard tried to convince her ‘many times’ to do espionage work for them.
‘I knew the reason that they didn’t engage in any meaningful negotiations with the Australians [to release her] was because they wanted to recruit me, they wanted me to work for them as a spy,’ she told Sky News.
‘[They said] if I co-operated with them and agreed to become a spy for them, they would free me – I could win my freedom.’
She said the country wanted even more value by turning her into a double agent who could use her position as an academic to collect information on Iran’s political enemies.
She claimed though Iran was not particularly interested in turning her against her own country.
‘They were more interested in me using my academic status as a cover story and travelling to other Middle Eastern countries and perhaps European countries, perhaps America, and collecting information for them there,’ she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert also told in her landmark interview how she spent months living in an ‘extreme solitary confinement room’.
Pictured: Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Islamic Studies lecturer at Melbourne University
‘The first room I was put in… [it’s] designed to break you. It’s psychological torture. You go completely insane,’ the 33-year-old said.
‘It is so damaging. I would say I felt physical pain from the psychological trauma I had in that room.
‘It’s a two-by-two-metre box. There is no toilet, there is no television. There is nothing whatsoever other than a phone on the wall for calling the guards.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert described moments of temporary comfort when she would hear birds chirping outside, or see a sliver of daylight through a crack in the cell wall.
Other than that, she said there was no real way of telling the time because the lights were kept on 24/7.
The Islamic Studies lecturer told interviewer Melissa Doyle the conditions at the prison were demeaning, disgusting and lacking of any human comfort.
The Melbourne University lecturer remained in solitary confinement for nearly seven months, and said she descended into a ‘prolonged anxiety or panic attack’
Dr Moore-Gilbert lay on an ‘old, dirty, stained’ carpet and was given three thin blankets which other prisoners had used.
‘They were kind of military blankets full of other peoples hairs, full of god-knows what; bits of skin, bits of rubbish.
‘I had to use one as a pillow, one as a mattress and one to cover myself so I wouldn’t be cold yet I was still cold.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she experienced a ‘prolonged anxiety or panic attack’ during her captivity and was ‘flipping out’ after two weeks.
She said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard stopped interrogating her every day towards the end of her imprisonment, meaning she had to entertain herself for days on end, with nothing to do.
However, the academic said she began to draw strength from the anger she felt at her mistreatment and said the rage woke up her emotional side again.
‘I drew strength from my anger and indignation at what had happened to me and became stubborn and started to fight back and started to break the rules because I felt I don’t deserve this. Who are these people to do this to me?’
Dr Gilbert-Moore pictured with husband Ruslan Hodorov. She learned of his alleged affair with her PhD supervisor only two days after she arrived in Australia, following her release in November
Dr Gilbert-Moore (pictured) was later released from prison in exchange for three Iranian prisoners on November 26 last year
The nightmare began when an informant in Tehran reported Dr Moore-Gilbert as suspicious, partly because her husband Ruslan Hodorov was a Russian-Israeli.
In the preview to the bombshell interview airing on March 9, she told Melissa Doyle she knows the identity of the informant.
The academic was tried and sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage, only to be freed after Nick Warner, the head of Australia’s intelligence service, successfully negotiated a prison swap for her freedom.
Dr Moore-Gilbert continues to recover from the psychological trauma she suffered at the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard during her time at Tehran’s Evin prison