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British-Australian women, Australian man jailed in Iran

Gohardasht Prison - Karaj, Iran. (Ensie & Matthias/Wikimedia Commons)
September 11, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Two British-Australian women and an Australian man have been detained in Iran, reports say.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on September 11 that it “is providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran.”

It didn’t provide additional information, citing privacy concerns.

Britain’s Foreign Office later said that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab “met the Iranian ambassador this morning and raised serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention.”

The statements came after Australian and British media reported that two British-Australian women and the Australian boyfriend of one of them had been behind bars in Iran for some time.

Australia’s ABC broadcaster reported that one British-Australian women has been in jail for nearly a year while a couple, a British-Australian citizen and her Australian boyfriend, were detained about 10 weeks ago.

Britain’s The Times newspaper said the British-Australian woman was an academic and had been given a 10-year sentence, although the charges were not clear, dpa reported.

Ten-year terms are routinely given in Iran for spying charges.

The two women are believed to be incarcerated at the Evin prison in Tehran, the Irish Times reported. It’s the same prison where a British-Iranian aid worker, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been jailed since 2016 on spying charges, The Times said.

The couple were detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for camping in a military area around Jajrood in Tehran Province, according to BBC Persian.

The Australian government updated its travel advisory for Iran on September 9 stating “due to the risk that foreigners, including Australians, could be arbitrarily detained or arrested,” travelers should reconsider their need to travel to the country.

The arrests come amid rising tensions between Iran and the West, after the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.