Travel Bloggers Arrested in Iran For Flying Drone Without a Permit
Two Australian travel bloggers have been arrested in Iran for flying a hobby drone without a permit. The bloggers often take photos with their drone and publish them to social media, but the couple disappeared from the internet in June after posting from Pakistan.
The bloggers, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, operate the website The Way Overland, which also has YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. The bloggers quit their jobs in July 2017 and started traveling the world with the goal of visiting 36 countries via an overland route from Australia to the UK. They support their travels through donations to their Patreon page.
Followers of their social media accounts had no idea what had happened to the couple until Pouria Zeraati, editor-in-chief of the Persian-language media outlet Manoto News, reported on Wednesday that they were being held. Their trial has not yet taken place, according to Zeraati. The couple were reportedly arrested in July but their identities were only revealed by Zeraati this week since the Iranian government has not yet acknowledged the arrests.
The couple’s permanent residence is Cottesloe, Western Australia, a suburb of Perth, though King is originally from the UK and holds a British passport. Both King and Firkin have been traveling on Australian passports, according to the Guardian.
The couple were arrested near Iran’s capital city of Tehran and are being held in the notorious Evin prison, according to Zeraati’s Twitter feed. Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was held at the same prison for almost two years and has described being tortured with the constant threat of death from his captors. The prison regularly uses prolonged solitary confinement, a punishment deemed to be torture by human rights activists. Iran, which is believed to execute the most people of any nation per capita, kills hundreds of prisoners every year, according to Amnesty International.
The couple’s regular readers have expressed concern for the couple, and some who have randomly met the couple on their journey across the world have showed their support.
One Instagram comment posted on Friday reads:
We met these guys a couple of years back in Northern Territory. Lovely genuine people. Our thoughts a