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Iran charges Australian travel bloggers, academic with 'spying'

Two of those detained are accused of photographing a military site [Twitter]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2019

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The detention of the two British-Australians and one Australian - none of whom are Iranian nationals - was revealed earlier this month.
Iran has charged three detained Australians with spying, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday.

Canberra revealed last week that two British-Australians and one Australian were being held in Iran.

Jolie King, a British-Australian blogger, and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin were detained 11 weeks ago while travelling through Asia. A British-Australian academic, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, was detained seperately.

The travel blogger and her boyfriend were alleged to have used a drone in an area near a military site. In many countries, taking pictures of military or other security installations is strictly forbidden.

The third was accused of spying for another country, Esmaili said in comments conveyed by Iran's Tasnim news agency.

While Esmaili did not name the accused, the three Australian citizens had already been identified by British and Australian media.

The two British-Australian women are thought to be the first British passport holders without Iranian citizenship to be detained in Iran in recent years.

Several British nationals with Iranian backgrounds are held as Iran and the UK have been discussing the possible release of some 400 million pounds held by London since the 1979 Islamic Revolution for a tank purchase that never happened.

British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, having been detained in 2016 and accused of spying, and dual national Anousheh Ashouri - charged with spying for Israel - are among them.

The Times reported earlier this month that King had been told she was being held as part of a plan to facilitate a prisoner swap.

Media reports previously said that Moore-Gilbert had already been sentenced to ten years in jail.

All three are reportedly held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where Zaghari-Ratcliffe is also imprisoned.

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