British-Australian woman Jolie King released in Iran along with fiancé

Jolie King, a British-Australian travel blogger who was imprisoned in Iran with her fiancé on spying charges, has been released from jail.

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said yesterday it was "with some enormous relief" that she could announce Ms King and her Australian partner Mark Firkin "have been released and returned" and all charges against them dropped.

"They are in good spirits and they are in good health," she added.

Their release was followed hours later by reports on state media in Tehran that an Iranian student held in Australia and wanted in the United States had also been released and returned home. 

Iranian state television showed footage of what it said was Reza Dehbashi arriving at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and hugging a tearful woman apparently from his family.  

Australia’s attorney general Christian Porter confirmed in a statement that he had stopped the extradition of Mr Dehbashi, a PhD student at the University of Queensland, to the US. Mr Dehbashi had been detained in Australia for 13 months on accusations of circumventing US sanctions on military equipment. 

But Mr Porter dismissed "speculation" over the case amid media reports that it could be part of a prisoner swap involving the bloggers.

Mr Porter declined to comment further "particularly when any such response from me may diminish our government’s capacity to deal with future matters of this type in Australia’s best interests."

Ms King and Mr Firkin were held after allegedly using a drone to take pictures of "military sites and forbidden areas", an Irani an judiciary spokesman said last month. 

The pair had been documenting their journey from Australia to Britain on social media for the past two years, but went silent after posting updates from Kyrgyzstan about three months ago. 

They were understood to be incarcerated in the same wing of Tehran’s Evin Prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian mother of one who has been held on spying charges since 2016.  

In a statement issued through the foreign ministry in Canberra, the couple said: "We are extremely happy and relieved to be safely back in Australia with those we love.

"While the past few months have been very difficult, we kn ow it has also been tough for those back home who have been worried for us."

The pair also stressed that intense media coverage "may not be helpful" for those who continue to be held in Iran, including a British-Australian woman whose unrelated case also came to light last month. 

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert remains in prison in IranCredit:

Melbourne University academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who has been detained for almost a year, is accused by the Iranian authorities of "spying for another country". 

Negotiations over her fate are "very long term", Australia’s Ms Payne said.

"She has been detained for some considerable time and has faced the Iranian legal system and has been convicted and sentenced," the foreign minister said.

"We don’t accept the charges on which she was convicted and we would seek to have her returned to Australia," Payne added, declining to comment further.

Iran tensions | Read more

Ms King was camping with Mr Firkin near a military site in Jajrood near Tehran when the pair were arrested by the Revolutionary Guard on August 9 for reportedly flying a drone without a licence.

The couple, who live in Perth, Western Australia, had been travelling across Asia for months, chronicling their journey regularly on YouTube and Instagram. 

Friends became worried when they stopped posting updates in July, it is understood.

On their Instagram page, the couple say they are currently “taking a break”. Their last update shows their jeep parked in a remote area of Kyrgyzstan, after travelling through South East Asia and Pakistan.

Their final destination was the UK. 

News of the arrests last month came after Canberra announced it would contribute a frigate and surveillance aircraft to a US-led mission to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, with tensions high in the Gulf region.

Ms Payne has maintained the cases of those detained were not related to diplomatic tensions.

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