Two Australian travel bloggers have been detained in Iran for allegedly flying a drone near Tehran.
Mark Firkin and Jolie King were in the process of blogging their way through the adventure of a lifetime: driving from Australia to London, aiming to “break down the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad rap in the media”.
Their adventure was cut short when the pair were arrested by security forces for allegedly launching a drone at a military area near Tehran known as Jajrood.
The Western Australian couple quit their jobs two years ago to embark on the overland expedition in a customised Toyota Landcruiser, shipping their vehicle to East Timor before travelling across Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
The couple was travelling through Iran prior to Central Asia’s former Soviet Republics, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The couple regularly used drone photography to document the beautiful, remote areas they travelled through.
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Beach camps for days…. . Surprisingly we’ve been finding some epic beach camp spots in this part of the world. Super easy to find, free, quiet and usually a pack of friendly wild dogs for Jolie to pet. (If she had her way there’d be about 14 in the back by now). New vid up now on YouTube of us doing just this, camping on the beaches around Malaysia. 🇲🇾 Check it out through the link in our bio! 🏝🐕🚐🎥🌏 . . . . . . . . #drone #travel #overland #vanlife #dronephotography #beach #troopy #4wd #landcruiser #ExploreOurEarth #lovetheworld #gothere #tourtheplanet #ourcamplife #4×4 #camp #projectvanlife #vanlifedistrict #vanlifediaries #vanlifexplorers #campervanmagazine #vanlifecamper #vanlifemagazine #camperlifestyle #picoftheday #yourshotphotographer #weareexplorers #camp #campeveryday #discoverearth
According to the Guardian, Persian-language broadcaster, Monoto TV, reported the couple were unaware of the Iranian law which bans drone flights without a licence.
“Their trial has not been held yet and it is not clear what the Islamic Republic [of Iran] wants out of this arrest, as no one from the judiciary or intelligence services has made any comment on this,” said Pouria Zeraati, editor of Manoto TV.
SMH reported those failing to obtain a permit for drone use carries a penalty of six months in jail followed by immediate deportation.
The couple were posting updates about their journey to social media around once a week, with their last social media update posted on 30 June. Followers and family members raised concerns when their accounts fell silent.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne told a press conference in Canberra the government is making efforts to ensure Australian detainees are being treated humanely and in accordance with international norms.
“On the basis of ongoing discussions, I continue to believe that the best chance of a successful outcome for these three Australians is with Iran through diplomatic channels and not through the media,” Payne said, according to SMH.
The department of foreign affairs has confirmed it is providing assistance to Firkin and King’s families.
Smartraveller’s current advice for Iran is to “reconsider your need to travel”, advising there is “risk that foreigners, including Australians, could be arbitrarily detained or arrested.”