DFAT confirms three Australians imprisoned in Iran

The Associated Press

Tensions as Iran Detains Two British Australian Tourists 60AP IMAGESBreitbart London11 Sep 2019

In a statement sent to CNN Wednesday, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran. The department said it could not comment further due to privacy obligations.

Three Australians have been arrested and detained in Iran.

The women are incarcerated in the Evin jail in Tehran, where 41-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother of one, has been held on spying charges since 2016.

The Australian government's official travel advice for Iran overall is for people to reconsider the need to travel to Iran "due to the risk that foreigners, including Australians, could be arbitrarily detained or arrested". She is reportedly in solitary confinement, and the crime or crimes she was convicted of have not been made public.

The latest two cases are believed to be the first imprisonments in Iran of British passport holders who do not also have Iranian nationality.

The Times said a blogger who had been travelling in Asia with her Australian boyfriend, as well as an academic who had studied at Cambridge University and was lecturing at a university in Australia had been detained in separate incidents.

The blogger was being held in the same ward for female political prisoners as Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the newspaper reported.

The blogger and her boyfriend had been documenting their travels on YouTube and Instagram. One of the women is reported to have been in detention for up to a year.

ABC reported the two cases were not connected. Cases involving dual nationals typically end up in closed-door hearings of Iran's Revolutionary Court, where former detainees say they had no opportunity to defend themselves against spying charges or offer evidence.

Tehran has pursued a campaign of detaining Iranian and dual nationals academics in recent years, raising fears the Islamic republic is using them as diplomatic leverage. The Iranian tanker was released in August and was last spotted along Syria's coast, while Tehran said on Sunday it could release the British-flagged vessel "within days." .

Detentions of those with Western ties have spiked in the past around sensitive times in Iran.

The arrests come after Australia announced last month it would join the USA and Britain in deploying warships to the Strait of Hormuz.

Already hard relations with Iran have threatened to boil over since United States President Donald Trump abandoned a deal on Iran's nuclear programme in 2018. Border areas with Afghanistan and Iraq are under the highest "do not travel" advisory.

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