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Family of British-Australian detainee in Iran hoping for safe return

The family of a British-Australian woman being detained in an Iranian jail has said they hope she will be able to return home soon.

Jolie King was arrested 10 weeks ago along with her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin.

They had allegedly been flying a drone without a licence, according to a Persian TV report.

The couple resigned from their jobs in mid-2017, according to Australian media reports, and embarked on a two-year drive through 36 countries to reach the UK.

They had been documenting their journey on social media.

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In a statement, their relatives said: "Our families hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible."

They also requested privacy and said they would not be making any further comment.

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The Times cited a source on Wednesday as saying Ms King had been told by Iranian authorities that she was being held as part of a plan to facilitate a prisoner swap with Australia.

Image: The couple are being held in Tehran's Evin prison. Pic: Facebook

Ms King, a building designer, is being held in Tehran's Evin jail.

It is the same prison where British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been since 2016 on spying charges.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Image: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in Evin jail since 2016

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said he had met Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab a couple of weeks ago and warned him there had been an escalation in foreign nationals being detained in Iran to be used as diplomatic bargaining chips.

"More people are being taken and the government needs to do a better job at protecting ordinary people from being held and used as chess pieces in this way," he told Sky News.

In a message to the families of Ms King and Mr Firkin, he said: "My heart goes out to you – it's a terrible situation to be involved in."

Richard Ratcliffe, husband of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Image: Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin, passed on his sympathy to the Australians

Another woman, reportedly a lecturer at an Australian university, has been held in the jail for almost a year but her citizenship and situation are unclear.

The arrests come amid a souring in relations between Britain and Iran, after issues such as the seizure by the Royal Marines in July of an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar.

Two weeks later, the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran for alleged marine violations in the Strait of Hormuz. Seven of the Swedish-owned vessel's 23-strong crew mRead More – Source

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