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British-Australian blogger arrested in Iran

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One of the British-Australian women arrested and detained in Iran has been named as Jolie King. She is a travel blogger on holiday with her fiancee.

The couple, who live in Perth, Western Australia, had been travelling across Asia for months. They are chronicling their journey regularly on YouTube and Instagram.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Thursday released a statement from the couple’s families which said: “Our families hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible. We have no further comment to make at this stage and ask that the media respects our privacy at this difficult time.”

On their Instagram page, the couple say they are currently “taking a break”. Their last update shows their jeep parked in a remote area of Kyrgyzstan. They were there after travelling through South East Asia and Pakistan.

Their final destination was the UK. One source close to Ms King said the couple had “no idea” that they were at risk of arrest.

In her last update on Instagram, Ms King wrote: “One thing that constantly blows me away is how friendly people can be to complete strangers.”

Is Iran really right in hampering a few tourists who visit the country

Ms King is understood to be held on the same ward in Evin Prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian mother of one, who has been held on spying charges since 2016.

She gave birth to a boy in custody in Adelaide, South Australia, while fighting extradition to the United States.

Last month the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, proposed a prison swap involving Ghodskani for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“Nobody talks about this lady in Australia who gave birth to a child in prison. Whose child is growing up outside prison with the mother in prison,” said Mr Zarif. “I put this offer on the table publicly now: exchange them.”

The latest incidents are thought to be the first time British passport holders who do not have Iranian nationality have been imprisoned in Tehran in recent years.

Former Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister (Middle East) Alistair Burt described the turn of events in Iran as “deeply worrying” .

What the reactions to the situation are:

He said: “I think Iran does work on a basis of putting pressure on those countries that are hostile to it. Or it believes are hostile to it, and hostage-taking appears to have become part of the practice. Iran now finds that broken by the United States, it looks to hit back.

“But the policy of taking – effectively taking hostages, that’s how it looks – means that it makes it very difficult. Especially for those who want a different relationship with Iran. Who want to get on the front foot with those who regard it as unremittingly hostile.”

DFAT on Monday updated its travel advice for Iran. It remains at a level of ‘reconsider your need to travel’. Also with the highest level (‘Do not travel’) applying in some parts of the country.

The other woman, an academic who had been lecturing at an Australian university, has been given a 10-year sentence, The Times reported, citing a source with knowledge of the cases.

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