An Australian couple traveling through Asia who wanted to “break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” reportedly found out the hard way that some countries may well deserve the reputation they have: the couple was reportedly arrested 10 weeks ago in Iran.
Jolie King, who has dual U.K. and Australian nationality, and Mark Firkin, have over 20,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube, where they document their travels. According to the BBC, the couple was traveling through Asia to Great Britain, starting in 2017. The pair had a drone they used to take footage of the dozen countries through which they were passing.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that drone landed them behind bars in Iran 10 weeks ago. “The pair has been held as prisoners for about 10 weeks after being arrested for reportedly flying a drone without a permit,” ABC reports.
The BBC reports that the couple is “believed to be being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.”
Another British-Australian woman, reportedly a University of Cambridge-educated scholar, has been jailed for 10 years in Iran, according to the BBC.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she spoke to the Iranian government about all three people last week. “Since they were detained, the Australian Government has been pressing the Iranian Government for their release,” said Payne. “I have communicated with my Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif, many times about these cases, including through face-to-face face meetings. We met as recently as last week.”
“Our biggest motivation … is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,” King and Firkin had written about their travels.
In July, Australia announced that it would join the U.S. and the U.K. as they monitored the Strait of Hormuz. Reported Iranian provocations involving other nations’ ships have been rampant near the Strait in recent months.
The BBC reported that U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met the Iranian ambassador and “raised serious concerns about the number of dual national citizens detained by Iran and their conditions of detention,” according to the Foreign Office.
The story of King and Firkin bears similarities to another story reported by The Daily Wire in August 2018 in which a “young American couple who took a year-long bike trip around the world, believing that evil was a make-believe concept, took a fatal route in Tajikistan near the Afghan border, where alleged ISIS terrorists stabbed them to death. Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, 29, quit their jobs last year in order to make their trip.”
Austin had written:
You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.
I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.
In June 2019, the man who was the alleged ringleader in the attack on Austin and Geohegan was asked if he interacted with the tourists at the gas station they stopped at just prior to the attack, Hussein Abdusamadov replied, “Yes. I talked to them. I asked them where they were from. I asked them what nationalities they were and they told me they were Americans … They said they were Americans and laughed.” He concluded, “Americans had to be killed.”
Asked if he felt any regret, Abdusamadov answered, “When Americans kill Muslims, they don’t regret it. We’re the same way. We will continue.”