Fans had posted desperate fears about Aussie Instagram travel bloggers before news of Iran arrest emerged

A globetrotting young Australian couple have been locked up in an Iranian prison for flying a drone without a licence.

Mark Finkin and Jolie King are in Tehran's notorious Evin jail, along with an Australian-British university lecturer who has spent months detained there on a separate matter.

Mr Finkin and Ms King have travelled the world for more than two years, documenting their adventures on YouTube and Instagram.

But followers sounded the alarm about 10 weeks ago after their regular updates dried up.

Their intrepid travels had taken a dark turn, with the young couple thrown behind bars.

The pair had been regularly posting pictures of their travels on Instagram when they went silent after a final update on the social media platform in June when they reached Kyrgyzstan.

The two Australians being detained in Iran have been identified as Jolie King and Mark Firkin. Source: Instagram

Four weeks ago followers revealed their concern for the couple after they stopped posting.

“Guys where are you it’s been a month – R u okay? (sic)” one said.

Another also commented it had been a while since they had heard from the travel bloggers.

One claimed they were concerned something happened to the couple in China, while another said, “something’s definitely not right”.

Couple’s map shows wrong turn

In 2017 the couple left Perth for a two-year adventure that would take them through 36 countries on the way to the UK.

They planned to trek through southeast Asia and the Middle East as part of their epic journey.

But the couple should have left Iran off the list, despite writing on a crowdfunding page they wanted to break the stigma around travelling to countries with a bad reputation.

According to the Australian Government's travel advice and consular information service, Smartraveller, Aussies are advised to think seriously about whether they need to travel to Iran due to the high level of risk.

Jolie King and Mark Firkin left for their world adventure from Perth in 2017. Source: Instragram

“If you do travel, you should typically seek professional security advice,” the website says.

“Be aware that regular travel insurance policies will be void and that the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance.”

It also states the unauthorised use of drones is illegal.

“You'll need permission to bring in electronic equipment including satellite phones, GPS trackers and walkie talkies,” the website says.

Perth couple’s families speak for the first time

The Perth couple's families have now spoken publicly for the first time.

"Our families hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible," they told AAP on Thursday.

"We have no further comment to make at this stage and ask that the media respects our privacy at this difficult time."

Drone use with a permit is allowed in Iran, but there are strict conditions.

People must not fly drones over people or large crowds, over the city of Tehran, or over sensitive areas.

Flying a drone without a permit in Iran is punishable by six months in prison followed by immediate deportation.

The lecturer has been imprisoned for several months and has reportedly been given a 10-year prison sentence.

While the allegations against her remain unclear, such penalties are routinely given in Iran for spying charges.

Detainment of three Australians of ‘deep concern’

The notorious Evin prison is where Iran holds its political prisoners and has a reputation for being the scene of various human rights abuses, including summary executions.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the detainment of the three Australians was a matter of deep concern.

Senator Payne has met with her Iranian counterpart several times to press for their release, as recently as last week.

"The government has been making efforts to ensure they are treated fairly, humanely and in accordance with international norms," she told parliament.

"We also continue to provide consular assistance to the three Australians' families, with whom we have maintained regular contact.

"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."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also reluctant to provide much comment on the "very sensitive" cases.

"They're never issues that are addressed well by offering public commentary on them," he told reporters in Canberra.

The foreign minister said there was nothing to suggest the detainments were related to an Australian military deployment to the Strait of Hormuz, or international unrest about Iran's nuclear program.

Senator Payne urged Australians thinking about visiting Iran to follow her department's advice.

Australia's official travel advice for Iran is currently set to "reconsider your need to travel".

The highest warning level – "do not travel" – applies in some parts of the country.

There is a risk that foreigners, including Australians, could be arbitrarily detained or arrested.

The advice states Australians may be at greater risk if they have a profile that is viewed adversely by Iran, or undertake activities which could attract the attention of its authorities.

With AAP

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