Australian academic retells story of being held hostage by Iranian IRGC

When Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert accepted a university invitation to travel to Iran in 2018, she could never have imagined the horrific ordeal that would befall her.

Ms. Moore-Gilbert traveled to Tehran in August 2018 to attend a seminar on Shia Islam with a number of foreign scholars.

When she came to check in for her return flight to Australia, her trip took a terrifying turn.

Accused of being a spy, Ms Moore-Gilbert was thrust into a high-security prison run by Iran’s terrorist-designated paramilitary group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

A Bahraini contact she was speaking to for a separate research project had sold her out.

“I wasn’t interviewing him or talking to him about Iranian politics, or anything about Iran actually, but he had links, evidently, to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” she told Tony Jones, filling in for Neil Mitchell.

“For whatever reason I just got unlucky and he told them I was suspicious.”

It marked the beginning of an ordeal that would come to last more than 800 days.

During her time behind bars, Ms. Moore-Gilbert survived solitary confinement in a two-meter by two-meter cell, a beating which ended with a tranquilizer, several hunger strikes and the attention of a high-level figure in the Iranian IRGC who was infatuated by her (and whose wife also happened to be a guard at Tehran’s Evin Prison).

And when she was released, she was dealt another blow — her husband had left her for one of her colleagues.

“Everything has been turned upside down in my life and I’m still trying to put the pieces back together in a way,” she said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was formed in the aftermath of Iran’s 1979 revolution, charged with upholding the ideals of the Islamic republic and defending it from foreign and domestic threats. It was the Guards who arrested, tried and held Moore-Gilbert for the majority of her time in prison.

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