UNDERWEAR model Michelle Leslie has denied that she is a drug user and a fake Muslim, and says she never wanted to profit by selling a story about her time in a Balinese prison.
Leslie, who served three months for use of ecstasy, appeared at her first media conference in Sydney yesterday as a tired, frightened young girl.
Through tears, she said she had been hurt by the hateful things people had said about her, especially that she had faked a conversion to Islam to get sympathy from the Indonesian judges.
"I am a Muslim," she said, patting her tears with a white handkerchief.
Leslie refused to answer direct questions about what happened when she was arrested in Bali three months ago with two pink ecstasy tablets in her handbag.
"I want to tell my story," she told reporters, "but I can't. The Prime Minister has said I will put other Australians (still awaiting trial on drug charges in Bali) in jeopardy."
In response, an exasperated journalist asked: "Can you stop mincing words? Won't you accept that you were busted, fair and square?"
But Leslie, who was accompanied by her father, Albert, alluded several times to their belief that she was innocent of the drugs charges.
There was a clear suggestion, too, that money had changed hands, with Mr Leslie saying he had gone into debt to see his 24-year-old daughter freed; mortgaging the family home and borrowing from friends.
Leslie's father criticised the federal Government for its lack of support, saying that Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had never contacted the family, despite living just a few streets away in Adelaide.
Leslie denied that her story was ever for sale, despite reports from several media outlets, including New Idea magazine, to the contrary. "My story is not for sale," she said.
"As for allegations that I was pretending to be a Muslim, let me say firstly that it was never my intention to offend anybody in the Muslim community."
She said she should have thought "more carefully" about wearing the burka after her arrest but she did not believe that modelling skimpy clothes made her a "bad person".
And, although she agreed that she was very happy in her relationship with millionaire auto heir Scott Sutton, she said: "For the record, I am not a wealthy person.
"My family are working-class Australians. They have spent their life savings and mortgaged their house to get me out of prison.
"As you can imagine, I feel terrible about this, and I want to go to work and repay them the money that I owe them."
Leslie refused to talk about the two other Australian women in jail in Bali, Schapelle Corby and Renae Lawrence.
Her father gave a moving account of the harrowing three months, saying he would have flown to Bali in an instant, but his daughter forbade him from seeing her "in that situation".
He, too, was "very disappointed" at the level of anger directed at her.
Mr Leslie said it hurt to watch people "kicking a person when she's down".
He described her modelling agency, Chic Management, which dumped Leslie on Thursday, as "like rats leaving a sinking ship".
Leslie said she had not believed she would be released and so she was asked if she could have survived 15 years in a Balinese prison.
Her father answered for her. "I don't know if she could, but we couldn't," he said, tears welling. "Her mum and dad could not have survived it."
I don't know I find this model to be decieving that she reverted to Islam, she's promoting a so called twisted Islam seriously there is many like her you hear of like Mike Tyson you all know him a boxer that became Muslim and Michael Jackson rumours and all these stars faking thier muslims, I call this psychological warfare there posing as these things yet their decieving and pretty popular people, I have no idea whats this world coming to but it looks devasting. Becareful my brothers and sisters out there.