British blogger and her Australian fiance were arrested in Iran ‘after flying a drone near Tehran without a licence’ – as Foreign Secretary calls in ambassador to raise ‘serious concerns’
- Two women with joint British-Australian citizenship arrested separately in Iran
- One was a blogger who was travelling across Asia with her Australian fiance
- Pair are thought to have been arrested flying drone near Tehran without licence
- Other woman is academic who studied at Cambridge and lectured in Australia
- Both are being held in hellhole jail where Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is locked up
A British citizen and her Australian fiance were arrested in Iran after they tried to fly a drone near the capital Tehran without a licence, it has been claimed.
The pair, both bloggers travelling across Asia to Europe and documenting their trip, were apprehended in July and thrown in jail, local media reported.
News of their arrest emerged Tuesday, at the same time as that of another British-Australian woman – an academic who studied at Cambridge – who has also been locked up.
It is thought that both women are currently being kept at Evin prison in Tehran, the same jail where British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held on spying charges since 2016.
A female blogger with British-Australian citizenship and her Australian boyfriend were detained in Iran in July amid reports that they were flying a drone near Tehran without a permit. The woman is thought to be locked in Nevin jail (pictured)
Dominic Raab spoke with the Iranian ambassador on Wednesday and warned of ‘serious concerns’ around detention and treatment of the two women
The family of the blogger and her partner say their arrest is a misunderstanding and they were unaware that flying a drone in Iran requires a permit.
A trial for the pair has not yet been held, UK-based Persian language news site Manoto reported.
The women are thought to be the first British passport holders without dual-Iranian citizenship to have been jailed in the country for several years.
The arrests come amid heightened tensions between Iran and Britain.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned the Iranian ambassador in London on Wednesday in order to voice ‘serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention.’
It is thought the blogger is being kept in a ward for female political prisoners.
She and her boyfriend were arrested about ten weeks ago as they travelled in Iran during a trip they had been blogging on social media.
The blogger has been detained in a ward for female political prisoners where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured), is currently held
They started their journey in Australia about three years ago and followers of their accounts have posted concerns about their recent silence.
Iranian authorities are told the woman she is being held in a bid to orchestrate a prisoner swap with Australia, according to The Times.
The newspaper also reported that the academic is in solitary confinement after she was sentenced to ten years in prison for an unknown offence. The sentence is common for foreign nationals charged with espionage.
Tulip Siddiq, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Labour MP, told The Times: ‘This terrible news shows a clear escalation of Iran’s hostage diplomacy.
Mr Ratcliffe, pictured outside the Iranian embassy in London in June, said Iran must be made to understand that ‘hostage diplomacy is not OK’
‘Soft diplomatic responses to Iran’s illegal and inhumane treatment of British prisoners have been a failure.’
Richard Ratcliffe, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, told the paper: ‘I complained to the foreign secretary last week that we’d been seeing an escalation from Iran in recent months, even since our hunger strike, publicly taking Nazanin to hospital in chains and restricting her visits and calls, new big sentences announced for other innocent people, and more British citizens being taken, even non-Iranian.’
He said Iran must be made to understand ‘hostage diplomacy is not OK’ and the UK Government ‘cannot keep sitting quietly by while ordinary people are being taken as bargaining chips’.
The Foreign Office declined to comment.