Australian bloggers detained in Iran exchanged for Khomeinist regime electrical engineer held in Australia

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By The Free Iranian Staff

Australian bloggers

Two Australian blogger couple who were detained by the Khomeinist regime have been released. The happy-go-lucky pair who for the past two years were on a journey from Australia to Britain had been documenting their trip on social media. After leaving Kyrgyzystan and Pakistan, three months ago however, their postings stopped.

Jolie King and Mark Firkin were arrested in early July, charged and jailed after reportedly flying a drone inside Iran without a licence. Tehran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili, told reporters that the couple were used a drone to take pictures of military sites. 

News of the release came hours after the couple arrived back at home in Perth following three months in an Iranian prison.

Now Australian authorities have confirmed that the two have been freed thanks to an apparent prisoner swap.

Reza Dehbashi Kivi, an Iranian living in Queensland who was arrested in September 2018, was accused of exporting American equipment for detecting stealth planes or missiles to Iran back in 2008. The 38-year-old Dehbashi Kivi who was in Australia to complete his PhD at the University of Queensland, was arrested from his Redbank Plains home in Ipswich and was denied bail in Brisbane Magistrate’s Court as the US sought his extradition for exporting American equipment for detecting stealth planes or missiles to Iran back in 2008. 

Dehbashi Kivi’s academic bio lays out his qualifications as a researcher and author of “author of tens of papers on novel/enhanced antennas and microwave systems, negative refraction of electron waves in graphene, electromagnetic wave manipulation using transformation optics and cloaking of electromagnetic waves (invisibility cloaks), physics and modeling of metamaterials and metasurfaces, near-zero materials and their applications, finite difference time domain and conformal finite difference time domain numerical schemes, applied electromagnetics, electromagnetics theory, and electromagnetic imaging systems.”

Effectively his value to the Khomeinist regime as a researcher into making things appear and disappear was high enough to secure the freedom of two Australian travel bloggers incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, the U.S. has called for his extradition on six charges, which include conspiring to export special amplifiers classified as “defense articles” under the US munitions list. Dehbashi Kivi has doggedly fought his extradition to the US, claiming racial prejudice. “I would not get a fair trial due to prejudice at trial towards Iranians,” Dehbashi Kivi told Australian media. That contention however is something that has rarely, if ever, been claimed by any Iranian-American.  

Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter however has issued the following statement announcing Reza Dehbashi Kivi, should not be extradited. The statement followed Tehran’s announcement of their  agreement to free Jolie and Firkin, from a Tehran prison.

“My decision was made in accordance with the requirements of Australian domestic legal processes and is completely consistent with the powers provided to the commonwealth attorney-general under our law…in all the circumstances of this particular case.”

“I considered that, in all the circumstances of this particular case, Mr Dehbashi Kivi should not ultimately be extradited to the United States.” 

“I considered that, in all the circumstances of this particular case, Mr Dehbashi Kivi should not ultimately be extradited to the United States,” Mr Porter said in a statement.

“Whilst Mr Dehbashi Kivi was considered by a magistrate to be eligible for surrender to the United States … it remains the case that my determination as to whether a person should ultimately be surrendered to the country seeking their extradition is made under a different section of that Act.

“Ultimately the Attorney General can and should take into account a considerably broader set of considerations.

“Extradition requests are considered on a case by case basis and in accordance with the requirements of Australian law and two points can be made in general terms about this case.

“First, this is not the first extradition matter in which a person has not ultimately been surrendered by Australia to the country seeking their extradition.

“Second, as a matter of longstanding policy, the Australian Government does not comment on the details behind its consideration of particular cases.”

Despite Porter’s announcement however, Queensland Corrective Services have confirmed that Dehbashi Kivi is no longer in their custody, giving no further information. Late on Saturday, Iranian media reported that Dehbashi Kivi had already returned to Iran.

Another Iranian Negar Ghodskani drew worldwide headlines after she was arrested in Australia in 2017. Ghodskani, a legal resident of Australia, was arrested after US prosecutors said she sought US digital communications technology by presenting herself as an employee of a Malaysian company. US prosecutors said that she was sending the technology to Iranian company Fanamoj, which works in public broadcasting. Ghodskani, 40, was pregnant at the time of her arrest and gave birth to her son Nickan in custody under guard in Adelaide ahead of her extradition to the US. US District Court Judge Joan Ericksen agreed in Minneapolis in September with Ghodskani’s lawyer Robert Richman the 27 months she had already spent in custody in Australia and the US was enough.

Kylie Gilbert-Moore

A second British-Australian, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, is still in prison. King and Firkin’s release has aroused hope that Melbourne University academic, who is also detained by the Khomeinist regime and serving a 10-year sentence for espionage, may also be released.

In recent weeks, Iranian-Australian journalist, Rita Panahi taped a powerful commentary on her Sky News Friday Show. The point about not choosing Iran as a tourist destination, which still most Westerners and Iranian dual-nationals refuse to heed, should now be impressed upon the citizens of every country, by their respective governments.

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