Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Islamic studies scholar who was detained in Iran for more than two years, is still seeking to move on with her life two years after returning to Australia. Her experience offers insight into what Brittney Griner and others who have gone through similar ordeals might encounter as they transition to life after detention.
Ms Griner, who returned to the United States on Friday after being detained in Russia for 10 months, is now part of the ‘weird club’ of people around the world who have returned home after detention abroad, many of whom support each other. , Dr. Moore-Gilbert said on Saturday.
After returning home, Dr. Moore-Gilbert couldn’t just pick up where she left off. She quit her job at the University of Melbourne and a few months after her release began writing about her experience in prison, finding it healing, she said. She spent most of that year traveling and attending events to promote the resulting book, “The Uncaged Sky.”
With this ending, “I have to reevaluate my life and try to figure out what I’m doing with myself,” she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert was arrested at Tehran airport in 2018 as she tried to leave Iran after attending a seminar on Shia Islam. After being tried in secret, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage and held most of her time in custody at Evin Prison. She was released in November 2020 in exchange for three Iranians imprisoned in Thailand.
She claimed her innocence. Iran has a history of detaining foreigners and dual citizens on bogus espionage charges, swapping them for Iranians imprisoned abroad.
For Dr Moore-Gilbert, coping with the ordeal has changed over time and has become more difficult than in the first months after his release. She described going through the first few days in a state of shock and paralysis after suddenly having endless options, like what shampoo to buy and what friends to hang out with, having decided everything for her in prison.
It was only after the shock wore off, which took months, that her detention became real for her. By then, the flurry of people around her asking if she needed support was gone.
People were reluctant to bring up his imprisonment or mention Iran, she said: “It was frustrating because I wanted to talk about it. I didn’t want to just dig a hole and bury it.
His time in prison was not the endless suffering that people often assume; he included moments of hilarity and fun with his cellmates. She learned things about her character and how she reacts to difficult situations.
To move forward and prevent her imprisonment from defining her life, she became involved in advocating for “other victims of arbitrary detention and hostage diplomacy,” she said.