A YOUNG couple locked up in Iran for using a drone could be sentenced to a decade in prison for spying at a show trial lasting just minutes, a veteran Middle East correspondent said.
Jolie King and Mark Firkin have been travelling the globe since 2017 – from Kakadu to the treacherous Karakoram Highway in Pakistan – posting pictures on Instagram and video blogs of their adventures.
The globe-trotting pair travelled across Asia, including the Hunza Valley in Pakistan[/caption]
Three months ago, the same drone that captured stunning vision of their journeys for the Brit-Aussie couple to share with the world landed them in jail in Iran.
It is believed they unknowingly flew the device in a military area near capital of Tehran.
War correspondent turned documentary filmmaker Michael Ware, who knows the area intimately, said any kind of drone activity would be seen as a threat by Iranian authorities.
“I fear that they have a long and extremely difficult time ahead of them,” he said.
“They may meet their lawyer at the trial, they may then be convicted and sentenced to a decade in prison for espionage, all in the space of about 15 minutes.”
Mr Ware said the arrests were a part of “grand geopolitical theatre”, with Iran hoping to use Australian prisoners to force concessions from Canberra.
Ms King and Mr are not the only Australians detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a researcher from the University of Melbourne, has reportedly been held in solitary confinement there for a year.
She was accused by Iran of spying. Her supporters say she was simply studying a religious course at an Iranian university prior to her arrest in August last year.
It has been reported Dr Moore-Gilbert has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Before her identity was leaked on social media earlier this month, the Australian government had been hoping to keep it a secret.
Washington Post reporter Jason Razaian wrote his book Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison, after his own ordeal with the nation’s authorities.
He was working in Iran when he was arrested in 2014, and convicted of espionage in a closed-door trial the next year.
“And as time went on, I started to realise that, well, actually no, I’m one more in the Islamic republic’s long line of foreign national hostages, and I think that’s exactly what’s going on with your fellow Australians right now,” he said.
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Public outcry in the US led to his release in 2016.
“Ultimately, you still have Australian citizens who’ve been travelling to Iran, not knowing that they might be under potential threat of being picked up by that regime, which is exactly what happened with Jolie and Mark,” he said.
The families of the Australian prisoners have asked for privacy as the government works to free them.
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