Australian travel-blogging couple held in Iran released: Canberra

Perth-based Jolie King and Mark Firkin have been released but a third Australian citizen identified as having been recently arrested by Iranian authorities remained in detention. PHOTO: JOLIE.ELLEN/INSTAGRAM

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian travel-blogging couple who were last month revealed to be detained in Iran have been released following "very sensitive negotiations" with Teheran, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Saturday (Oct 5).

Perth-based Jolie King and Mark Firkin had been documenting their journey from Australia to Britain on social media for the past two years but went silent after posting updates from Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan about three months ago.

Following "very sensitive negotiations" with the authorities in Teheran, the couple have been released, Ms Payne, adding that the couple are returning to Australia and will be reunited with their families.

"We are extremely happy and relieved to be safely back in Australia with those we love," the couple said in a statement issued by the foreign ministry Saturday.

"While the past few months have been very difficult, we know it has also been tough for those back home who have been worried for us," they added.

The couple asked for privacy and said intense media coverage "may not be helpful" in the negotiations for the release of a third Australian detained in Iran in an unrelated case.

University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who specialises in Middle East politics with a focus on Gulf states, had been detained for "some months" before Ms King and Mr Firkin in an unrelated case.

But the fate of Ms Moore-Gilbert, remains "complex" and "ongoing", Ms Payne said.

"She has been detained for some considerable time and has faced the Iranian legal system and has been convicted and sentenced," the minister said.

"We don't accept the charges on which she was convicted and we would seek to have her returned to Australia," Ms Payne added, denying to comment further.

News of the arrests last month came after Canberra announced it would contribute a frigate and surveillance aircraft to a US-led mission to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, with tensions high in the Gulf region.

Ms Payne has maintained the cases of those detained were not related to diplomatic tensions

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