Husband’s betrayal harder than prison
Melbourne academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who spent 800 days in an Iranian prison, has not heard from her estranged husband after discovering his affair since returning to Australia and said his betrayal was harder than being kept in jail.
Dr Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in 2018 during a trip to Iran after authorities accused her of being a spy and was sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence.
She describes the "psychological torture" she underwent as she was kept in solitary confinement - housed in a freezing cell with constant noise - and was also beaten by guards. Yet returning home she was also dealt a crushing blow when she discovered her husband of three years was having an affair.
Speaking about her brutal ordeal in an world exclusive interview for Sky News, Dr Moore-Gilbert revealed that her mother broke the news of her husband's affair once she landed back in Australia.
She said she knew there was a problem with her marriage 12 months before she arrived home but didn't anticipate the end of the relationship.
"He had changed and I was upset and disappointed that he wasn't supporting me to the extent that I would have hoped he would. He stopped telling me loved me over the phone," she said in the Sky News interview.
"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. Although he never told my family and never told me that he wanted to leave me and maintained the deception right up until the end, but I knew something was wrong."
Dr Moore-Gilbert discovered her Russian-Israeli husband, Ruslan Hodorov, who she married in 2017, had been having an affair with her colleague and PhD supervisor Dr Kylie Baxter. But her family and her were kept in the dark over the secret up until her release, despite others being aware it was happening.
The 33-year-old forced the truth from her mother on their first day in hotel quarantine in Canberra as she hadn't heard anything from her husband, despite being freed after more than two years in jail.
"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 Dr Baxter was acting as a liaison between the University of Melbourne and her family and husband after her arrest.
"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.
But the academic was gracious, refusing to bad mouth her husband on national television.
"I think he suffered a lot at the beginning too and was quite vulnerable, according to him," she said. "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. 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."
Government sources confirmed the Iranians' discovery she was in a relationship with an Israeli was the initial trigger for her arrest at Tehran airport.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said that the Iranians wanted her to lure her husband to the country so they could interview him and promised they would then both be freed afterwards. But she said they were dreaming to think he would be stupid enough to enter Iran considering the conflict between the two countries.
She also revealed that she went "completely insane" when she was first kept in solitary confinement after being locked in a two-by-two metre cell, with no windows, and noise and lights blaring 24 hours a day. She even considered killing herself at one stage.
However, she battled through and came out determined not to give up. She never saw herself as a "damsel in distress" and fought every step of the way, she said, including seven hunger strikes and an attempt to escape where she put socks on her hand to scale a wall with serrated corrugated iron.
The academic, who grew up in Bathurst, also tried to leak a letter to a doctor but he exposed her with shocking consequences.
"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 and that was in early 2020," she said.
Dr Moore-Gilbert said she never lost hope and knew she would return to the Australian bush one day. She plans to write a book about her experience and said she is looking forward to returning to a sense of normality, putting down roots and healing.
Originally published as Husband's betrayal harder than prison