Families of Australian-British bloggers detained in Iran call for release

Families of Australian-British bloggers detained in Iran call for release

The couple detained in Iran’s latest arrests of foreigners visiting the county have been named as their families called for their release on Thursday.

Travel blogger Jolie King, an Australian-British national, and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin were arrested 10 weeks ago for allegedly flying a drone without a license.

King’s and Firkin’s relatives have appealed for their release, after their detainment became public on Wenesday. “Our families hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible,” they said in a statement obtained by Sky news.

The family added that they would like to have privacy at this time, and would not be making any further comments.

Government reactions
Australia on Thursday called on Tehran to treat “humanely” three citizens detained in Iran, after the names of the detained couple were released.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said she had raised the cases “many times” with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, including as recently as last week.

“The government has been making efforts to ensure they are treated fairly, humanely and in accordance with international norms,” she said, adding that there was “no reason” to believe the arrests were politically motivated.

Perth-based King and Firkin had been documenting their journey from home to Britain on social media for the past two years but went silent after posting updates from Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan about 10 weeks ago.

The UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace called on Iran on Wednesday “to release those who have been detained and follow the rule of law,” after two British-Australian women were jailed in Iran.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab also raised concerns about the number of dual-nationality Britons detained in Iran and the conditions in which they were being held, a foreign office statement said on Wednesday.

Australia urged Australians to avoid travelling to Iran as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to the detained trio.

A history of detaining foreigners
Another unnamed British-Australian academic has also been detained for almost a year. The woman was given a 10-year prison sentence and is being held in solitary confinement, British newspaper The Times reported. The charges against her are still unknown.

The three are being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, has been detained since 2016 on spying charges. The UK rejects the charges.

According to The Times, Iranian authorities told King that she was being held as part of a plan to facilitate a prisoner swap with Australia.

In August, an Iranian appeals court upheld a 10-year jail sentence against Aras Amiri, a British Council employee, for “cultural infiltration.”

Amiri was detained in 2018 on a visit to see relatives in Iran.

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