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Iranian Detained In Australia Released Hours After Iran Frees Australians


Two Australians detained in Iran, Mark Firkin and Jolie King, have been released, Canberra says.

Hours after two travel-blogging Australians being detained in Iran on spying allegations were released by Tehran, Iranian media reported the release of an Iranian held by Australia on charges of violating sanctions.

On Saturday, Iran's state controlled broadcaster announced that Reza Dehbashi, an Iranian post-graduate student in Australia was released after 13 months of detention.

The Australians, Mark Firkin and Jolie King, who were arrested in July, have been freed following "very sensitive negotiations" with Tehran, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in Canberra early on October 5.

She added that they were on their way home and in "good health and in good spirits."

The report by Iran's broadcaster said that Dehbashi was arrested for trying to procure "radar equipment" and ship it to Iran via Dubai and Australia was contemplating to extradite him to the United States.

A third Australian citizen, Melbourne University Academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert -- who was recently arrested by Iranian authorities -- remained in detention, Payne said, adding that talks concerning her were "ongoing."

Firkin and fiancee King were arrested in July and were alleged to have used a drone to take pictures of military sites, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili was quoted by the judiciary-affiliated Mizan news agency as saying last month.

Media reports suggested they were being held in Tehran's Evin prison.

The couple had been documenting their journey on social media for the past two years but went silent in July.

Tehran on September 17 acknowledgment for the first time that it was holding two British-Australian citizens and an Australian national for allegedly spying. King is a dual British-Australian citizen.

The arrests came at a time of increased tensions between Iran and Western countries over a number of issues, including Iran's decision to reduce its nuclear commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

In recent years, several foreigners and dual nationals have been jailed in Iran on espionage charges.

Iranian authorities have not provided any solid evidence to back their claims.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP

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