Middle East

Julie Bishop offers to help secure release of Australians detained in Iran

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Julie Bishop has offered to help the Morrison government as it lobbies for the release of two travel bloggers and a university lecturer locked up in Iran.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop has offered to assist with negotiations over the Australian citizens detained in Iran.

The Morrison government is lobbying for the release of two Perth travel bloggers and a Melbourne university lecturer being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

"I have a longstanding and constructive relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister (Javad) Zarif and I met with President (Hassan) Rouhani during my visit to Tehran," Ms Bishop told the Nine newspapers on Monday.

Ms Bishop visited the Iranian capital of Tehran in 2015 and has cited her “constructive” relationship with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

 “I am available to support the government in its efforts to secure the release of the detained Australians, should the government make that request,” she said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, speaks during a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, in Tehran, Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, speaks during a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, in Tehran, Iran.
AP

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has raised the imprisonment of the three Australians with her Iranian counterpart several times, as diplomats continue to work behind the scenes to try and secure their release.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese told reporters on Sunday he stood prepared to back the government’s steps to provide consular assistance.

“I’m sure that Julie Bishop would be prepared to play a constructive role if the Foreign Affairs officials believed that was possible,” he said.

“These are real issues of concern and … the fact is we, unlike a lot of countries, have a presence in Iran at the diplomatic level.”

“We should do all we can to assist these Australian citizens.”

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, greets Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Tehran, Iran.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, greets Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Tehran, Iran.
Office of the Iranian Presidency

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed those being detained are Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Perth Coupe, Mark Firkin and Jolie King.

Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been sentenced to 10 years in jail and has received only limited consular visits.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, center, arrives with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif for a joint press conference, in Tehran, Iran.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, center, arrives with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif for a joint press conference, in Tehran, Iran.
AP

In a separate incident, Mark Firkin and Jolie King were detained by Iranian authorities about 10 weeks ago, accused of flying a drone near a restricted military zone in Tehran.

DFAT's Smart Traveller website urges Australians to "reconsider their need to travel" to Iran, and warns foreigners "could be arbitrarily detained or arrested".

Evin prison is where Iran holds its political prisoners and has developed a reputation for various human rights abuses, including summary executions.

With AAP

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