TEHRAN – Iran has charged three detained Australians with spying, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday, after the reported arrest of a travel-blogging couple and an academic.
Two of the Australians were alleged to have used a drone to take pictures of military sites, while a third was accused of spying for another country, spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters.
It was the first official confirmation that Australians have been detained in Iran after the families of three of them said last week they had been arrested in the Islamic republic.
They identified them as a travel-blogging couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin and Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert.
“The news is correct,” Esmaili said in a video posted on the state television website, adding the matter involved two separate cases.
“One case is of two people taking photos of military sites and our forbidden areas,” the judiciary spokesman said.
The pair had been identified at the time and images were found on a drone they were using, he added. The other case involved an individual accused of “spying for another country”, said Esmaili.
“Criminal charges have been issued for both cases and they are waiting for their trial,” he said. “It will be the court that rules if they are guilty and need to be sentenced or whether to issue another verdict.”
It is unclear from official sources in Iran when the three Australians were arrested and where they are being held. The arrested Australian couple also visited Pakistan before coming to Iran . -APP/AFP