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Australian and British bloggers held in Iran named

  • 12 September 2019

Jolie King and Mark FirkinImage copyright
Jolie King

Image caption

The Australian couple are reportedly being held in Evin prison in the country’s capital

Two Australian citizens detained in Iran have been identified as Jolie King and Mark Firkin.

Ms King, who also holds a UK passport, and Mr Firkin were blogging their travels in Asia and the Middle East.

They were reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago near Tehran but news of the arrest, and that of another British-Australian woman, came to light on Wednesday.

“[We] hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible,” their families said on Thursday.

The Australian government has said it is assisting the families of three Australian detainees.

The situation comes amid growing tensions between the West and Iran.

Several dual nationals have been detained in Iran in recent years, including the British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Relations between the UK and Iran have also been strained in recent months by a row over the seizure of oil tankers in the Gulf.

UK’s ‘serious concerns’

Ms King – who has dual UK and Australian nationality – and Mr Firkin, an Australian citizen, had been travelling on Australian passports.

They left Western Australia in 2017, embarking on a major cross-continental road trip to the UK and blogging about their trip.

Few details of the circumstances of their arrest have been made public, but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said they had reportedly been flying a drone without a permit.

They are believed to be being held in Tehran’s Evin prison, where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is also detained.

A source told the BBC that Ms King has been told she is being held as part of a plan for a potential prisoner swap with Australia.

The second detained British-Australian woman is reported to be a University of Cambridge-educated scholar who was lecturing at an Australian university.

She has reportedly already been tried on unknown charges and jailed for 10 years. The case are not believed to be related.

While the charges against her remain unclear, 10-year terms are routinely given in Iran for spying charges, the Times said.

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Media captionWhy one mother’s personal plight is part of a complicated history between Iran and the UK

The two British-Australian women are believed to be the first British passport holders without dual Iranian nationality to be held in the country in recent years.

On Wednesday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met the Iranian ambassador to discuss Iran’s behaviour over a seized tanker’s oil.

He “raised serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention”, said the UK Foreign Office.