Australian-British blogger and boyfriend freed from Iran jail

Jolie King and Mark FirkinImage copyright
Jolie King

Image caption

British-Australian Jolie King and Australian Mark Firkin have been released from prison in Iran

A British-Australian woman and her Australian boyfriend have been released from an Iranian jail, Australia’s government has said.

Jolie King, who also holds a UK passport, and Mark Firkin were detained in Tehran earlier this year for reportedly flying a drone without a permit.

A second British-Australian, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, is still in prison.

Australia’s foreign minister said talks to secure her release were ongoing.

Marise Payne told reporters that it was “with some enormous relief” that she could announce Jolie King and Mark Firkin “have been released and returned”.

The pair were detained after entering Iran as part of a major trip across Asia to the UK – they were blogging about it for thousands of followers on social media.

Ms Payne confirmed Ms Moore-Gilbert remained in prison, where she has been for almost a year having reportedly been given a 10-year sentence.

“Very long-term negotiations” were taking place to secure the release of the Cambridge-educated academic, Ms Payne added.

Ms Moore-Gilbert was most recently a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Melbourne University.

Earlier, Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars reported that the Islamic Republic’s judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli confirmed all three were detained for spying.

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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 were believed to be the first British passport holders without dual Iranian nationality to be held in the country in recent years.

Their detention echoes that of British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned since 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies.

On Friday it was announced that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe would allow her daughter Gabriella, five, to return to the UK to begin schooling.

The mother and daughter were said by family to have travelled together to Iran to visit relatives before she was detained.

Who are the other Britons detained in Iran?

As well as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a number of other dual UK-Iranian citizens are also being detained in Iran.

Iran does not recognise dual nationality, and there are no exact figures on the numbers of dual nationals in custody.

But they do include Kamal Foroughi, a former oil and gas consultant, who has been held since 2011; businessman and wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz who also has US citizenship and was arrested in a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018, and Kameel Ahmady, a social anthropologist, who has been in custody since August.

Anousheh Ashouri, a British-Iranian dual national, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Tehran after being convicted of spying for Israel.

Aras Amiri, 33, a UK resident who works for the British Council in London , was held in March 2018 on a visit to her unwell grandmother. This year Ms Amiri lost an appeal against a jail term for spying, and her British fiancé, James Tyson, told the BBC she was being used as a “bargaining chip” by Iran’s government.

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