Kylie Moore-Gilbert has revealed she nearly escaped a hellhole Iranian jail before tasting freedom for 20 minutes, only to be captured and thrown into solitary confinement.
The Australian academic was released in November last year after spending 804 days in various prisons across Iran on trumped-up spying charges.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, who was in Iran to attend a seminar on Shia Islamic studies, was arrested by Islamic Revolutionary Guards as she prepared to board her flight back to Melbourne in September 2018.
While locked up in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, which she says made her go ‘completely insane’, Dr Moore-Gilbert decided to make her daring escape.
‘I’d seen a way to scale the wall and climb up on the roof of the facility, and one day I was just like, “You know what? I’m going to do it. I have nothing to lose”,’ she told Melissa Doyle in a bombshell Sky News interview on Tuesday night.
The Australian academic was released in November after spending 804 days in various hellhole prisons on trumped-up spying charges
Dr Moore-Gilbert said that while locked up in the Middle East, Mr Hodorov eventually stopped telling her he loved her over the phone
‘There were spikes on part of the wall, so I just took some socks with me and put them over my hands and then grabbed onto them, hoping they weren’t too sharp.
‘It was pretty effective. I climbed the wall, got up on the roof, disappeared from view and walked all the way to the end of the complex and could see over the wall of the prison.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she could have climbed down from the roof from a nearby a tree and made it to a river crossing, but was spooked by the idea of being out in the open in a residential neighbourhood.
‘Where would I have gone? What would I have done? I didn’t speak the language. I was in a prison uniform. Without somebody on the outside to help me or pick me up in a car, I don’t know what I would have done,’ she said.
‘I didn’t have any money and if they caught me (outside the walls) it would’ve been really serious.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she contemplated escaping for 20 minutes – the time it took the prison guards to find her.
‘I was sort of free to walk around on the roof for quite some time. It was a beautiful day, blue sky. I just kind of basked in the sun and I yelled stuff from the roof to entertain my roommates,’ she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she contemplated escaping for 20 minutes – the time it took the prison guards to find her
‘I was screaming ‘Azadi! Azadi! Freedom!’
Guards eventually made their way up to the roof from a neighbouring building, where they asked what her demands were.
She said she was thrown into solitary confinement which is ‘essentially a black hole’.
‘It’s psychological torture. It’s a two-by-two-metre box. You go completely insane. It is so damaging. By the end of it (I was) a crazy lady. My emotional state was just so volatile. I was basically having a prolonged anxiety attack,’ she said.
‘I was never physically tortured with the things you think about like pulling fingernails or being electrocuted – that never happened to me – but I was beaten up once and forcibly injected with a syringe of tranquilliser against my will.’
After being released and touching down in Melbourne in November last year, Dr Moore-Gilbert was taken to hotel quarantine.
It was there that Dr Moore-Gilbert’s mother told her that her husband, Ruslan Hodorov, was having an affair with Dr Kylie Baxter, her university colleague and PhD supervisor.
‘I knew that it [the marriage] wasn’t in the same state that it was when I left. I knew that there was a problem at least 12 months before I came home,’ she said.
‘My mother told me when I arrived in hotel quarantine. She found out the day before from a third person, a third party … My family found out and called [him], and he confirmed it.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert was in hotel quarantine in Melbourne when her mother informed her of her husband’s alleged affair
British-Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert (pictured left) split from her husband after allegedly discovering he had had an affair with colleague Dr Kylie Baxter while she was behind bars
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she became suspicious when her Russian-Israeli husband hadn’t contacted her after touching down in Australia.
‘He hasn’t even called to say “I’m happy you’re free”, so I said you have to tell me mum it’s obvious somethings up – I’m strong I can handle it,’ she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said that while locked up in the Middle East, Mr Hodorov eventually stopped saying ‘I love you’ during phone calls.
‘I was upset and disappointed he was not supporting me to the extent that I hoped he would,’ she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she became suspicious when her Russian-Israeli husband hadn’t contacted her after touching down in Australia
‘I understand something had shifted for him and for me too. I didn’t necessarily think that our marriage was over, but I was thinking to myself based on that maybe I didn’t want to stay with him, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise that my marriage came to an end.
‘He never told my family, or told me, that he wanted to leave me. He maintained the deception right up until the end.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert said Dr Baxter liaised between the University of Melbourne and her family and husband during her time behind bars.
‘The nature of it given my closeness to both of them was very disappointing for me. In a way it has been harder for me to process and come to terms with that then it has been with what happened to me in Iran,’ she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert admitted her husband ‘suffered a lot at the beginning’ of her arrest and was ‘quite vulnerable’.
‘I don’t know what happened, I don’t want to know, I don’t want to dwell on it. I just want to move on,’ she said.
‘I honestly wish him all the best, he’s not an evil person, she’s not an evil person. I hope they are happy together and hope we can all just move on with our lives.’
Dr Moore-Gilbert, an Islamic studies scholar, was freed last November in a prisoner swap deal after spending 804 days in jail on trumped-up spying charges
Dr Moore-Gilbert admitted her husband ‘suffered a lot at the beginning’ of her arrest and was ‘quite vulnerable’
Before her September 2018 arrest, Dr Moore-Gilbert and Mr Hodorov had just bought a house in Melbourne’s east after marrying in 2017 in a Jewish ceremony.
Both Mr Hodorov and Dr Baxter pushed for Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release after her arrest for espionage in September 2018.
Dr Moore-Gilbert and Dr Baxter are both experts in Middle East studies at the University of Melbourne.
The couple married a few months before she left their Melbourne home on her study trip to Iran.
They met a decade earlier when she visited Israel, where Mr Hodorov lived after emigrating from Russia with his family.
She was locked up in solitary confinement in a windowless, two-by-two metre cell, with noise and lights blaring 24/7