Coffs man and his partner jailed for flying drone in Iran

AN Australian couple detained in a notorious prison in Iran, reportedly for flying a drone, have been identified as travel bloggers from Perth.

Jolie King and Mark Firkin, who is originally from Coffs Harbour, are detained in Evin jail in the Iranian capital of Tehran, the Federal Government has confirmed.

“Our families hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible,” their families said in a statement today, issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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

They were reportedly arrested for flying a drone without a licence, according to Persian-language broadcaster Manato TV on Twitter.

The Timesof London has revealed the young British-Australian woman and her Australian partner were arrested 10 weeks ago.

Ms King and Mr Firkin have frequently used a drone in photos and videos published of their travels through Australia, Asia and the Middle East, with nearly 19,000 people following their

adventures on their Instagram page.

Mr Firkin, who was schooled at St John Paul College, Coffs Harbour, has family living locally.

The couple have reportedly been detained for 10 weeks. Picture: Instagram
The couple have reportedly been detained for 10 weeks. Picture: Instagram

He and Ms King run a YouTube channel called The Way Overland, however their last video was posted more than 11 weeks ago, in June this year, about driving through Pakistan.

Their last Instagram update on their shared account was posted on June 26.

“Apart from the massive landscape, countless horses, and a few screaming marmots we felt pretty isolated,” they said from their camp spot in Kyrgyzstan.

“The warm hospitality we received in Pakistan continued to deliver though.”

Concerned friends posted in recent weeks asking if the couple were all right.

“GUYS WHERE ARE YOU ITS BEEN A MONTH — R U OKAY??? (sic),” wrote one follower.

Another said: “You guys OK? It’s been a while!”

The couple's Instagram page
The couple's Instagram page

Several followers were worried when they didn’t hear from the couple at their next stop.

“Anyone else worried about what happened when they went to China?? It’s been over a month and Jodie said they would update us as soon as they got in!” said one man.

Another person replied: “I’m worried too, have been for a couple weeks!!! I thought they were in Iran?”

The man wrote how the couple shared in their last video that they would have to cross through the corner of China to get to Kazakhstan.

“I’ve checked everything they’re MIA,” he said, before another wrote, “Something’s definitely not right.”

The couple's Instagram page
The couple's Instagram page

Another concerned follower wrote, “What the hell is going on – these are extremely lovely people. I really hope they are fine and well.

“We check every day and have been so worried.”

One follower replied how they saw the couple were staying at their friend’s guesthouse a few weeks ago in the north of Iran.

Jolie King and Mark Firkin.
Jolie King and Mark Firkin.

Two weeks ago, someone wrote how they’d spoken to Ms King’s mum, who said they were fine and just having internet issues.

The pair quit their jobs and left Perth in July 2017 in a Toyota LandCruiser bound for the UK, planning to travel for two years driving across 36 countries.

“Our biggest motivation behind making 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 wrap (sic) in the media,” they said in a post on crowdfunding platform Patreon.

Evin Prison in Iran's capital of Tehran
Evin Prison in Iran's capital of Tehran

Another British-Australian woman, an academic lecturing at a university in Australia who studied at Cambridge University, has also been detained in Evin jail.

The Federal Government confirmed to yesterday that the couple had been detained.

“(DFAT) is providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran,” a DFAT spokesman said.

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

DFAT reviewed its travel advice for Iran on Monday, adding additional information to the local travel and safety and security sections of its Smartraveller website.

However the advice level today remains at “reconsider your need to travel”.

Australians detained in Iran.
Australians detained in Iran.

Some parts of Iran – including border areas with Afghanistan and Iraq – are considered very high risk for travellers and considered under the “do not travel” advice level.

The website further states that Iran does not recognise dual nationality such as Ms King’s.

“If you’re a dual Australian/Iranian national, it is highly unlikely the Australian Government would be allowed to assist if you’re arrested or detained,” it reads.

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