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Travel bloggers in Australia arrested in Iran for taking illegal photos with a drone



In a statement Thursday, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) confirmed that Australians Mark Firkin and Jolie King were held in Iran.

On Thursday, a source with knowledge of the situation said the pair were arrested in July, accused of taking illegal photographs with a drone.

Couples often feature drone shots on their YouTube channel, where they have 21,600 subscribers. Their most popular YouTube episode features them driving through the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan and with over 150,000 views.
According to their blog The Way Overland, the couple planned to travel from Australia, across South and Central Asia, and to their final destination, the United Kingdom. The pair also documented their trips to Instagram, where they have 1
9,000 subscribers.
The couple has not posted on their YouTube and Instagram accounts since late June. Their last Instagram posts were from Kyrgyzstan. In their blog, the couple said they planned to travel to Central Asia and Iran before heading to Turkey.

In a statement issued by DFAT Thursday, the couple's families said they hope to see the couple "safe at home soon." DFAT provides consular assistance to the couple's family. wife.

DFAT also provides consular assistance to a third Australian national in Iran. According to Australian national broadcaster ABC, he is a British-Australian dual citizen who has been behind bars for almost a year.

In a statement, a DFAT spokesman urged Australian citizens and holders of dual nationalities including Australia traveling to or through Iran to follow the latest government travel advice.

According to the Smartraveller website, updated on Monday, Australia's latest travel advice for Iran will "reconsider your need to travel," due to "the danger that foreigners, including Australians, may be intentionally incarcerated or arrested. "

The British Foreign Office could not confirm the ABC report, but said in a statement that UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with the Iranian ambassador on Wednesday and "raised serious concerns about the number of dual nationals already detained by Iran and their conditions of detention. "

Tensions escalated

The detentions came amid tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies, including Australia and the UK.

Washington attempts to use so-called "maximum pressure" to change Iran's behavior and limit nuclear ambitions from US President Donald Trump's 2018 decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal .

Earlier this year, tensions between them. the US and Iran have grown to levels that have prompted fears of a war. Oil prices jumped as investors feared that attacks on oil tanks threatened a disruption in shipments to the Strait of Hormuz, which passed through Iran and is the most important place on the planet in global supply of oil.

Australia and the United Kingdom were also involved in tensions. Last month, Australia agreed to work with the US and the United Kingdom on a maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

& # 39; Hostage taking & # 39;

On Wednesday, the former minister of the Middle East of the UK. Alistair Burt described the detainees as a "hostage-taking" during an interview with BBC Radio 4.

  Iran releases seven Indian personnel from seized UK tanks

"The policy of effectively capturing hostages, and as it turns out, is very difficult for those who want another ties with Iran to come to the forefront with those who keep it as incessant hostility, "Burt added.

During an interview with Sky News Wednesday, business affairs minister Andrea Leadsom added that the detentions' sound reports were "overly specific."

"Iran has raised stakes again , "Labor Party opposition lawmaker Tulip Siddiq said in a Twitter post . "This is a wake-up call for our Prime Minister, Government and the Minister that they should take action to bring our innocent citizens home."
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen from the London suburb of Siddiq, has been. detained in Iran since 2016 on espionage charges.

CNN & Matt Egan and Hilary McGann contributed to this report.


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