MELBOURNE, Australia — An Australian couple detained in Iran for several months have been released and are being reunited with their families after charges against them were dropped, the Australian authorities confirmed on Saturday.
“I’m pleased to be able to advise that the Iranian government has released Australian couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin from custody and has dropped the charges against them,” Marise Payne, minister for foreign affairs, told reporters in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday afternoon.
The couple had since 2017 been blogging about their travels across Asia toward Europe when their social media accounts went quiet in June.
Last month, the Australian government confirmed that the couple were among three of its citizens detained in Iran, at a time when tensions between Iran and the West remained high over an imperiled 2015 nuclear accord.
“For Jolie and for Mark, the ordeal that they have been through is now over,” Ms. Payne said. “They are being reunited with their loved ones which is a source of great relief and joy to everyone. I can tell you that they are in good health and in good spirits.”
She added said that she had met on a number of occasions with Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and that discussions regarding the release of the third detainee, who has been convicted and sentenced, were continuing.
“Each case of an Australian unfortunately detained overseas is different and requires a specific and a particular response,” Ms. Payne said.
A spokesman from Ms. Payne’s office confirmed that reports in the Australian news media naming the third detainee as Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a scholar of Middle East studies at the University of Melbourne, were accurate. Ms. Moore-Gilbert has been sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison, though it is unclear what she is accused of, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported in September.
The Australian authorities did not comment on why Ms. King and Mr. Firkin were detained, but previous reports by the Iranian news media said the two were imprisoned after flying a drone near Tehran without a permit.
In a statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on behalf of the couple, Ms. King and Mr. Firkin said they were “extremely happy and relieved” to be safely back in Australia.
“While the past few months have been very difficult, we know it has also been tough for those back home who have been worried for us,” the statement read.
On the couple’s Instagram account, where they have nearly 30,000 followers, messages began to pour in expressing relief at their safe return.
“We are very glad to hear that you are free and safely back in Australia,” one follower wrote, adding that the couple would hopefully resume their travels “when the time is right.”