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British-Australian blogger and her boyfriend who face Iranian jail time

The identities of a British-Australian blogger and her boyfriend who are facing ten years in an Iranian jail for flying a drone without permission have been revealed.

Building designer Jolie King and Australian construction manager Mark Firkin were arrested in July after they were caught operating the drone near Tehran with a license.

The pair, who have 19,000 followers on Instagram, had previously walked away from their ‘9-5 grind’ in order to travel the world together. 

Now the family of the couple say that the whole situation is a ‘misunderstanding’ and that they were unaware of the strict drone laws employed by the country.

The couple (pictured above) enjoy sharing their travels on Instagram to their follower

The couple (pictured above) enjoy sharing their travels on Instagram to their follower

The couple pictured above in Gilgit-Baltistan were said to have been arrested in July

The couple pictured above in Gilgit-Baltistan were said to have been arrested in July 

The travel bloggers attracted many followers for their posts, including this one of Ms King in Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia

Goa Rangko

The travel bloggers attracted many followers for their posts, including this one of Ms King in Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia (left) and Goa Rangko Flores (right)

Persian-language broadcaster Manoto TV revealed the names of the bloggers on Twitter. 

A source also told The Times that Ms King was told by the Iranian authorities that she was being detained in hope of a prisoner swap.   

At their time of arrest the couple had been travelling across Asia to Europe and documenting their trip.

The couple had previously penned that they wanted to share their journey online to show that countries with a bad reputation are still okay to travel to.

‘Our biggest motivation behind the vlogs is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad rap in the media’, they said in a post.

Jolie King and Australian construction manager Mark Firkin have been revealed as the couple who have been detained in Iran

Jolie King and Australian construction manager Mark Firkin have been revealed as the couple who have been detained in Iran

Rajasthan

Udaipur

Snaps show the couple all over the world including Malaysia (right) and Rajasthan (left)

While travelling in India the pair posted this snap of themselves on social media while visiting Goa

While travelling in India the pair posted this snap of themselves on social media while visiting Goa

Ms King (pictured above in Udaipur, Rajasthan) is said to be being held in the same jail as Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Ms King (pictured above in Udaipur, Rajasthan) is said to be being held in the same jail as Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Their adventure first began in the summer of 2017 after they saved all their cash to take a trip to the UK. They then islands hopped in south east Asia. 

Inside the infamous Evin jail 

Evin prison was built by the former Shah of Iran in 1972 and has a reputation as being used for political repression.

It was later expanded after some political opponents overthrew him and took power in 1979.

The couple were detained in Iran in July amid reports that they were flying a drone near Tehran without a permit. The woman is thought to be locked in Evin jail (pictured)

The couple were detained in Iran in July amid reports that they were flying a drone near Tehran without a permit. The woman is thought to be locked in Evin jail (pictured) 

In the 1980s dissidents and members of the People’s Mujahidin of Iran were hanged there and even today the prison still operates a death row system.

Most prisoners in the jail are high-profile long-term political opponents, and in some cases pawns to be used in bargains with other countries.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is still being detained in the prison after she was accused of spying while visiting her parents with her daughter.

Others who have also been jailed for spying include British Iranian businessman Anousheh Ashouri and Amas Amiri, as well as Morad Tabhaz.

 

They arrived in Iran on June 30 and immediately took to social media to update their followers.

In a video message they said:   ‘We’re now in Iran and we’re camped on a nice hill here next to the capital Tehran. We just arrived. It’s actually really beautiful.’

News of their arrest emerged Tuesday, at the same time as that of another British-Australian woman – an academic who studied at Cambridge – who has also been locked up, the woman has not yet been named.

It is thought that both women are currently being kept at Evin prison in Tehran, the same jail where British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held on spying charges since 2016. 

The arrests come amid heightened tensions between Iran and Britain.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned the Iranian ambassador in London on Wednesday in order to voice ‘serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention.’

It is thought Ms King is being kept in a ward for female political prisoners. 

They started their journey in Australia about three years ago and followers of their accounts have posted concerns about their recent silence. 

It was also reported that the academic is in solitary confinement after she was sentenced to ten years in prison for an unknown offence. The sentence is common for foreign nationals charged with espionage.

Tulip Siddiq, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Labour MP, told The Times: ‘This terrible news shows a clear escalation of Iran’s hostage diplomacy.

‘Soft diplomatic responses to Iran’s illegal and inhumane treatment of British prisoners have been a failure.’

Cambodia

Pang Oung

The couple have posted amazing pictures from their account in places such as Cambodia (left) and Pang Oung Lake (right)

All smiles: The couple had been enjoying the new freedom of their life before the incident in Iran

All smiles: The couple had been enjoying the new freedom of their life before the incident in Iran

Suwehan Beach

Kyrgyzstan

Ms King has posted many photos of their travels such as Suwehan Beach (left) and Kyrgyzstan (right)

Richard Ratcliffe, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, told the paper: ‘I complained to the foreign secretary last week that we’d been seeing an escalation from Iran in recent months, even since our hunger strike, publicly taking Nazanin to hospital in chains and restricting her visits and calls, new big sentences announced for other innocent people, and more British citizens being taken, even non-Iranian.’

He said Iran must be made to understand ‘hostage diplomacy is not OK’ and the UK Government ‘cannot keep sitting quietly by while ordinary people are being taken as bargaining chips’. 

Dominic Raab spoke with the Iranian ambassador on Wednesday and warned of 'serious concerns' around detention and treatment of the two women

Dominic Raab spoke with the Iranian ambassador on Wednesday and warned of ‘serious concerns’ around detention and treatment of the two women

The blogger has been detained in a ward for female political prisoners where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured), is currently held

The blogger has been detained in a ward for female political prisoners where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured), is currently held

Mr Ratcliffe, pictured outside the Iranian embassy in London in June, said Iran must be made to understand that 'hostage diplomacy is not OK'

Mr Ratcliffe, pictured outside the Iranian embassy in London in June, said Iran must be made to understand that ‘hostage diplomacy is not OK’

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