Iran confirms arrest of Australian travel-bloggers, announces spying charges
Iran has confirmed the arrest of two Australian travel-bloggers, following reports last week that the couple, along with a British-Australian academic, had been arrested in the country.
The trio have been identified as travel-blogging couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin, the creators of the popular Way Overland instagram page, and Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert.
King and Firkin were alleged to have used a drone to take pictures of military sites, while Moore-Gilbert was accused of "spying for another country," according to Iranian news agency Mizan.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said all three were in prison and awaiting trial. Firkin and King and Moore-Gilbert would be trialed separately.
“The news is true and there are two dossiers and bills of indictments have been issued for both cases,” he was quoted as saying.
Media reports have suggested that the three are being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
King and Firkin were reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago for flying a drone near a military facility without a licence. The crime carries a sentence of six months in prison.
Moore-Gilbert was working as a lecturer specialising in Middle East politics for Melbourne University's Asia Institute before her arrest. Her family confirmed she had been arrested last year.
The Australian government has said it is providing consular assistance to the three detainees.
The arrests come at a time of increased tensions between Iran and Western countries over a number of issues, including the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear deal and tension around oil transports in the Strait of Hormuz.