Iran reveals reason why it has detained three Australians

Iran has acknowledged for the first time that it is holding three Australian nationals, including two with joint British nationality, on suspicion of spying.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying the three had been charged in two separate cases.

He said two people, British-Australian blogger Jolie King and her boyfriend Mark Firkin, had been detained for using a drone to take pictures and video of military areas and other unauthorised zones.

He said the third, believed to be Cambridge-educated academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert from the University of Melbourne, faces charges of spying for another country.

She has reportedly been sentenced to a 10-year jail term at Tehran's Evin prison.

Iran confirmed Jolie King and Mark Firkin are being held on suspicion of spying. Source: Instagram

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has raised the imprisonment of the three Australians with her Iranian counterpart several times, as diplomats continue to work behind the scenes to try and secure their release.

Firkin and King, who were travelling throughout Asia, were reportedly arrested about 10 weeks ago for flying a drone without a licence.

Their travels are documented on various forms of social media under the name, The Way Overland.

The couple have more than 21,000 followers on YouTube, where they document their travels.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert has reportedly been sentenced to a 10-year jail term at Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Source: AAP
The couple were detained for using a drone to take pictures and video of military areas and other unauthorised zones. Source: Instagram/The Way Overland.

Their last YouTube video was uploaded on June 26. Their last Instagram post was on the same day, and their last social media activity was in Pakistan.

According to their Patreon account, the couple have been travelling since 2017, “escaping from the daily 9 - 5 corporate grind”.

“We left Perth in July 2017 and will travel overland from Australia to the UK documenting our experiences through videos and photos,” they said.

“We hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams and perhaps wander down the road less travelled.”

Consular assistance has been provided to their families.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia last week.

“Due to our privacy obligations, we will not comment further.”

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

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

With AAP

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