WA couple home after Iranian prison time

Jolie King and Mark Firkin in India. Picture: Instagram
Jolie King and Mark Firkin in India. Picture: Instagram

AN Australian couple held in a notorious Iranian prison for flying a drone has spent their first night on home soil after being locked up for months.

But the fight remains to bring a third Australian detained in Evin Prison home.

Perth couple Mark Firkin and Jolie King are back in Australia with all the charges against them dropped, after being arrested for flying an unlicensed drone near a military zone.

Picture: Jolie King/Instagram

Hours after their arrival home on Saturday, Attorney-General Christian Porter confirmed he’d decided Iranian Reza Dehbashi Kivi, a cancer researcher, shouldn’t be extradited to the US.

The man had been arrested in September 2018 after US authorities accused him of conspiring to export electronic military devices to Iran.

Queensland Corrective Services confirmed the University of Queensland PhD student was no longer in their custody, but gave no further information.

The Perth couple thanked the Australian government for their efforts to bring them home.

“We are extremely happy and relieved to be safely back in Australia with those we love,” they said in a statement on Saturday, after almost three months in jail.

“We are grateful for the efforts of the Australian government in helping secure our release, and we thank our family and friends for their love and support.

“We know there are others who remain in detention in Iran, including a fellow Australian, and believe intense media coverage may not be helpful for efforts to bring them home.”

The pair had been globetrotting for two years and documenting their travels on Instagram and YouTube before their arrests.

Iranian state media agency IRIB reports Mr Dehbashi Kivi returned to Tehran on Saturday.

Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Mr Porter said the decision to not extradite the researcher came after considering “all the circumstances of this particular case”.

“While it is likely that because of Mr Kivi’s nationality some will speculate regarding this matter, consistent with prior practice I do not intend to comment further on the particular details of this case,” he said in a statement.

While the couple is back home, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government was working to return Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert.

She described Dr Moore-Gilbert’s situation as “very complex”.

“We are continuing our discussions with the Iranian government, we don’t accept the charges upon which she was convicted and we will seek to have her returned to Australia,” the senator said of the woman who’s been in detention since October 2018.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese congratulated the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for its work in bringing the couple home.

— AAP