2 British-Australians and Australian citizen held in Iran

CANBERRA, Australia — Two women who are dual British-Australian citizens and an Australian man have been detained in Iran, one of them sentenced to 10 years in prison, Australia's government and media said Wednesday.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to the families of all three. The department said it could not comment further due to privacy obligations.

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

A British-Australian blogger and her Australian boyfriend were detained 10 weeks ago while traveling through Asia, The Times newspaper in London reported.

A British-Australian academic who studied at Cambridge University and was lecturing at an Australian university was detained separately and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the newspaper reported. The newspaper said she was being held in solitary confinement but it did not know what she had been convicted of doing.

The lecturer has been behind bars for almost a year, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The Australian government, the newspaper and the ABC have not released names.

The three are held in Tehran's Evin prison, where British Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, has been detained since 2016 on spying charges, the newspaper reported.

The women are thought to be the first British passport holders who do not also have Iranian nationality to have been imprisoned by Tehran in recent years, the newspaper said.

The blogger was being held in the same ward for female political prisoners as Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the newspaper reported.

Iranian authorities told the blogger she was being held as part of a plan to facilitate a prisoner swap with Australia, the newspaper said, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the cases.

The couple were in Iran as part of a trip that started in Australia three years ago, the paper reported.

ABC reported the two cases were not connected.

Australia advises its citizens to "reconsider your need to travel" to Iran, the highest warning on a four-tier scale after "do not travel" to a country.

Britain and Australia last month signed onto a U.S.-led maritime security mission to protect international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran's recent seizures of vessels has raised tensions with the West.

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