Aussie couple held in Iran over ‘drone’

 

An Australian woman sentenced to 10 years' jail in Iran has been identified as a Melbourne university lecturer.

The prisoner, who previously studied at Cambridge in England, was arrested in October last year while travelling in the country and is being held in the Evin Prison on the outskirts of the capital Tehran.

Two other Australians also arrested and detained in the notorious prison have been identified as a Perth couple: a British-Australian blogger and her Australian boyfriend.

Photos and videos posted by the couple online show them leaving from Perth, through WA's north and into Asia. They last posted photographs of their travels in Pakistan in June.

According to The West Australian, the couple were held captive after flying a drone near Tehran without permission.

According to the report, no trial has been held.

In a brief statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed that consular assistance was being provided to the families of three detained individuals, but did not reveal details of their identities.

 

The notorious Evin Prison is notable as the primary site for the housing of Iran's political prisoners since 1972.
The notorious Evin Prison is notable as the primary site for the housing of Iran's political prisoners since 1972.

 

"Due to our privacy obligations, we will not comment further," the DFAT statement read.

"All Australian citizens and holders of dual nationality with Australia who are travelling to or through Iran are urged to follow the travel advice on the DFAT Smartraveller website."

The blogger was arrested 10 weeks ago on charges which remain unclear, The UK Times reported.

The newspaper said she was being held in solitary confinement but it did not know what she had been convicted of doing.

While the charges against the lecturer remain unclear, 10-year terms are routinely given in Iran for spying charges, the Times stated.

Iranian authorities told the blogger she was being held as part of a plan to facilitate a prisoner swap with Australia, the newspaper said, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the cases.

The couple had reportedly been documenting their travels on YouTube and Instagram, but concerns were raised by their online followers when they failed to add any news posts in the past several weeks.

 

 

 

BBC Persian reported a woman and her Australian partner were detained by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Jajrood in Tehran province.

The couple had reportedly been camping in a military area, the site reported.

On Monday, DFAT updated its travel warning to Iran to specifically state that Australians should reconsider travelling to Iran because of the risk that foreigners "could be arbitrarily detained or arrested".

"We can't guarantee access to consular services or legal representation if you're detained or arrested," the statement on the Smart Traveller website read.

The advised also specifically urges travellers not to visit military or nuclear sites, which it says "are not always clearly marked".

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The report comes just three weeks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Australia would send a warship, aircraft and a deployment of 200 troops to the Persian Gulf to counter Iranian aggression in the Strait of Hormuz.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the decision to send troops was made to "de-escalate" tensions in the region. Labor described it as an "appropriate response".

Today, a spokesperson for Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Penny Wong said it was "obviously a distressing time for these Australians and their families", and her office was engaging closely with the Foreign Minister's office on the issue.

According to Wikipedia, Evin prison is sometimes known as "Evin university" because of the high number of intellectuals and political prisoners it houses.

American journalist Shane Bauer, who was imprisoned in Evin between 2009 and 2011, revealed methods of psychological torture and solitary confinement were used within the prison.


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