The young Spanish woman who was detained in Iran for 138 days told how she spent months living in fear among foreign cellmates she could only communicate with through gestures.
And apparently, getting busy cleaning or doing laundry was the only thing that kept her from going insane.
Ana Baneira, 24 – from the city of Coruna, Spain – described life inside an Iranian prison after she finally returned home on 27th February.
She says she was subjected to the traumatising experience after being falsely accused of participating in anti-hijab protests in the country.
Ana, who entered the country in September during a backpacking trip across the Middle East, was suddenly seized by authorities a month later while attempting to renew her visa.
Police separated her from her Iranian colleague she was riding in a car with and took her away without any explanation.
She told local media: “We were refuelling at a gas station and suddenly, the police got into our car.
“They stopped me, put me in another car and there we went directly to an interrogation room.”
It was not until days later that she had been informed of the reasons for her arrest on 12th October.
She denied any involvement in the anti-government demos, saying: “[When] I went to Iran on 6th September, there was no protest of any kind and I didn’t see it coming.”
Ana told how hard the first month of her imprisonment was because of the uncertainty and the fear of being accused of something serious.
The young woman said that her cell, in the women’s unit, was “quite spacious” but that her companions “did not speak English” and communicated with gestures.
She said: “Mimicry in prison worked quite well, and they taught me some words in Farsi, basically swearing. Also ‘good morning’. We understood each other through gestures.”
She added: “You force yourself to think that they are going to set you free, but you don’t know when.”
After a month, Ana was transferred to a prison in Tehran, where she was able to notify the Spanish Embassy in Iran that she was fine.
Ana is one of two Spanish nationals known to have been arrested in Iran amid protests all over the country following the death of Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa died in police custody after she had been arrested for not wearing her hijab properly.
The other Spaniard is 41-year-old Santiago Sanchez, a football fan who was detained while crossing Iran as he walked to the World Cup in Qatar.
Sanchez is still being held behind bars ever since his alleged visit to the grave of Mahsa Amini last October.
Ana said that he never had contact with Santiago or with any foreign person detained, but hopes he will soon be released.