Tensions as Iran Detains Two British-Australian Tourists

An Iranian inmate peers from behind a wall as a guard walks by at the female section of the infamous Evin jail

Meanwhile, the University lecturer has so far been in jail for nearly a year.

The two British-Australian women are believed to be the first British passport holders without dual Iranian nationality to be held in the country in recent years.

The couple were in Iran as part of a trip that started in Australia three years ago and had been documenting their travels on YouTube and Instagram, the Times said.

Australian citizens have always been advised to reconsider plans to travel to Iran because of a "risk that foreigners including Australians could be arbitrarily detained or arrested".

One of the women being held is reportedly a blogger who was travelling through Asia with her Australian boyfriend.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran". DFAT would not comment further on the three cases due to privacy reasons, and would not confirm whether the cases were related.

Cases involving dual nationals typically end up in closed-door hearings of Iran's Revolutionary Court, where former detainees say they had no opportunity to defend themselves against spying charges or offer evidence.

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According to the report, while two of those arrested hold dual citizenships, the Australian government is leading negotiations with Tehran over the conditions and potential release of all three arrested.

While the charges against her also remain unclear, 10-year terms are routinely given in Iran for spying charges, the paper reported.

Richard Ratcliffe, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, told the Times: "I complained to the foreign secretary last week that we'd been seeing an escalation from Iran in recent months, even since our hunger strike, publicly taking Nazanin to hospital in chains and restricting her visits and calls, new big sentences announced for other innocent people, and more British citizens being taken, even non-Iranian".

The department also urged Australians to follow its travel advice, which includes a warning that foreigners risk arbitrary detention in Iran.

It was unclear when or why the lecturer was arrested, the Times said.

The arrests come amid a downturn in relations between Britain and Iran, sparked by issues including the seizure by the Royal Marines in July of an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar.

Last month, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the country's defense force would work alongside the U.S. and the United Kingdom on a maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

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