Australian Detainees in Iran Identified

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

A globe-trotting Perth couple who have been detained in Iran were naive to fly a drone capturing video footage for their travel blogs and will be suspected of acting against the regime, an academic says.

Mark Firkin and Jolie King were travelling to England via Asia and had uploaded 60 video blogs before they were reportedly arrested about 10 weeks ago for flying a drone without a licence.

They are being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, where some inmates are mistreated and tortured, Deakin University professor of Middle East politics Shahram Akbarzadeh said.

He said the pair were taking footage at secluded sites, which is considered highly suspicious in Iran.

“Iran authorities see a threat in every corner,” Professor Akbarzadeh told AAP on Thursday.

“What might seem like a very benign and very ordinary thing to do – using a drone for photography because you can get really nice shots – can turn into something very sinister in Iran.”

Prof Akbarzadeh said the couple may be detained indefinitely without being put before the judiciary.

Authorities scouring the footage may conclude it is innocent but others view Australia as an enemy given it is part of a US-led international coalition to stop Iran exporting oil.

“Dealing with Iran is so arbitrary and unpredictable,” Prof Akbarzadeh said.

“It is a helpless scenario, unfortunately.

“Let’s hope there’s nothing suspicious on those videos.”

Iran responded well to “the human face” so the best thing for the pair’s families to do could be appealing directly through Iran’s embassy in Canberra or even going to Iran.

But there was a risk they too could be considered suspicious and detained.

The couple’s most recent video was uploaded two months ago and concerns were raised when they failed to add new posts.

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