Australian bloggers couple freed from Iranian prison

Iran on Saturday released two Australian bloggers from jail months after the couple were detained.

The dual citizenship British-Australian woman, Jolie King, and her Australian boyfriend, Mark Firkin, had been traveling around the world since 2017 documenting their adventures as bloggers online. Iranian police arrested them earlier this year for allegedly flying a drone without a permit.

Officials dropped all charges against them after they spent several months in jail.

“We are extremely happy and relieved to be safely back in Australia with those we love,” the couple said in a statement released through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“While the past few months have been very difficult, we know it has also been tough for those back home worried for us,” the couple added. “We are grateful for the efforts of the Australian government in helping secure our release, and we thank our family and friends for their love and support.”

The couple asked for privacy to get back to their “normal lives.” They said that with others remaining in detention, including one Australian, the “intense media coverage,” may not help efforts to bring them home.

The couple were in “good health and in good spirits,” and they have been united with their families, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab contacted the Iranian ambassador demanding the couple’s release.

The travel bloggers entered Iran as part of a trip from Asia to Britain.

Online followers feared something went wrong after they did not post for several weeks.

“Hey you guys, we are getting worried, no post or episode for over a month,” one wrote. “Hope you are both well and safe.”

The couple were held at the Evin jail, north of Tehran, which is used to house political prisoners.

Another Australian, Melbourne academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, has been in the same prison for almost a year. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of espionage.

Australian officials were taking part in “very long-term negotiations” to release the Cambridge-educated academic, Payne said.

BySommer Brokaw