Australia Islam News & Commentary

Australian vloggers arrested in Iran were trying to break the “stigma around countries that get a bad rap”

An Australian-British couple, have been arrested in Iran for allegedly flying a drone near Tehran, without the required license. Jolie King and Mark Firkin have been imprisoned for 10 days without trial, with no sign there’ll even be a trial.

The couple were vlogging their attempt to drive from Australia to Britain.

As Ben Doherty and Kate Lyons of The Guardian reported, ‘diplomatic efforts, to keep their cases from public attention [failed] when the pair was named overnight on social media.’ Doherty and Lyons said that the Australian Government has been ‘quietly negotiating their release since they were arrested.’

What the Guardian failed to report was how this incident has exposed the naïve view that some people in the West have of Iran’s laws, and the Iranian regime. Joe Duggan of The Sun (UK) quoted the couple’s reasons behind the journey stating:

“The couple wrote online that their biggest motivation behind the vlogs is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel. And also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad rap in the media.”

The incidents also raise questions about the effectiveness of Government warnings such as this one from DFAT:

Australian Government Warning

Which not only clearly warns against travel to Iran, but also states that,

  • ‘The unauthorised use of drones is illegal. You’ll need permission to bring in electronic equipment including satellite phones, GPS trackers and walkie talkies.’
  • ‘Australians could be arbitrarily detained or arrested’

The couple now joins a young British-Australian academic woman from Melbourne, who was arrested (the charges are unknown) last year and sentenced to 10 years in the ‘notorious Evin Prison, a facility on the outskirts of Tehran used to house the country’s political prisoners’ (SMH). Her identity remains hidden due to concerns over how the information, and reactions to it, might impact attempts to have her released.

Speculation has it that the arrests and imprisonment are designed to create diplomatic leverage for Iran.

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