Instagram Bloggers Face 10 Years Imprisonment in Iran for Flying Drone Without Permission

Instagram Bloggers Face 10 Years Imprisonment in Iran for Flying Drone Without Permission

A couple who quit their jobs to go travel blogging have had their dream trip descend into a nightmare, after being detained in an Iranian jail. They are now facing up to ten years in prison after they flew a drone in Tehran without the correct license, but claim to have been unaware of the country’s strict drone operating policies.

Jolie King, a building designer, and her construction manager boyfriend Mark Firkin were caught operating the drone without permission back in July. Their families are speaking out to claim the entire situation is a "misunderstanding." The pair frequently post to their 21,000 Instagram followers after they quit their '9-5 grind' in order to travel the world together. They were traveling from their native Australia, heading across Asia and Europe before ending in London, all the while documenting their findings on the social media site.

Our biggest motivation behind the vlogs [video blogs] is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad rap in the media.

It is reported they first arrived in Iran on June 30th, but a video they posted announcing they were there has since been removed.

The Times reports that the Iranian authorities informed King she was being detained in hope of a prisoner swap. They are currently awaiting trial in the Islamic Republic.

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Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

"but claim to have been unaware of the country’s strict drone operating policies" Well if they didn't know I'm sure the Iranian authorities will just let them go with an apology for having imprisoned them...

dean wilson's picture

Irony: "...try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad rap in the media." Other than that you really need to know the laws of where you are traveling. Probably would have had the same results in North Korea, just saying.

Simple internet search can save you 10 years in a Heart-Break Hotel:

Can you read Arabic? Cuz this source has pdf only in arabic. Come down from your high horse...

dean wilson's picture

That's the point. If you don't know... find out.

For example: this past weekend I was on vacation on the Oregon Coast and on the spur of the moment I decided to check out a particular area that is not within the Oregon State Parks but belonged to a timber company. Recreational Permit Access Only.

Cell phone...Register. File for Access Permit. Print out pass and parking permit at the motel. 10 minutes and I was legal. Read the rules and was off the property by 8:31pm: one hour after sunset, as per rules.

Everything was safe and no high horses were fallen from.

Steven Magner's picture

Google “drone rules Iran” and the second policy is “don’t fly over the city of Tehran”.

How stupid/lazy were these 2 when it came to their research before traveling to an Islamic State?

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

They obviously knew but didn't care thinking they were "smart". I guess a drone shot of a place that is forbidden gets you many Instagram followers so they tried their luck. The stupidest part is doing it in such a country,

Rayann Elzein's picture

Why "in such country"? As if it's a bad thing to have law and apply the punishments when said laws are not followed. If only drone regulations were actually enforced everywhere in the world, such people wouldn't think that it's OK to just fly anywhere.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I absolutely agree with you, I was saying such countries implying they're stricter with the rules but I don't think it's a bad thing. Just maybe 10 years for this kind of crime seems too much but it's not an excuse for them

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

10 years in prison for flying a drone without permission??? Talking about a backwards mentality.

Steven Magner's picture

I agree.

Iranian woman tries to enter football stadium dressed as a man, not wearing a hijab. Security removes her from the stadium, she’s given a court appearance and faced 2 years in jail for the offense. She then lights herself on fire outside the courtroom. This was last week.

Their country. Their laws.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Backwards is surely subjective but go ahead and defend their progressive laws.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

You’re right, English is not my first language, Russian is. (Plenty of ground to cover there on not understanding the laws)
I’m with you on not understanding laws of any country but the punishment seems way too harsh, hence the choice of words on my part.

Dan Howell's picture

what kind of sentence would you expect if an Iranian national flew a drone over, say, the White House? I minutes worth of research on their part could have prevented it. Why are you giving them a pass?

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I’m not giving them anything. I just think it’s fucked up to get 10 years for flying a drone. What would they get if they killed someone?

Rayann Elzein's picture

Probably the death penalty, why?

Common sense alone will tell you that you don't need to know the drone laws in Iran to know that you shouldn't be flying any sort of camera equipment in that country.

Dave Dundas's picture

Common sense alone would tell you that maybe Iran isn't the best place for a Westerner to go at all right now... so, clearly, that was lacking from the start...

user-206807's picture

Oh the poor tourists who feel so superior and who do not respect the laws of the countries where they travel and are surprised that bad police officers throw them in jail...

This has nothing to do with flying drones and everything to do with Iran's tendency to lock up foreigners on trumped up charges, usually vague allegations of espionage, in order to gain concessions from Western governments.

I guess they are finding out first hand why some of these places get "bad raps" in the media. Next time, stick to visiting countries not run by crackpot theocrats or despots.

Link isn't working for me, I guess it is Iranian drone laws? If so...

I never suggested they had no laws or rules around flying drones, but no civilised or rational place incarcerates people - especially foreigners, especially in their in their worst jail (Evin) - because of drone-flying.

dean wilson's picture

Know before you go. It's that easy.

You still think this is about flying a drone in the wrong place. It isn't.

user-206807's picture

"stick to visiting countries not run by crackpot theocrats or despots."
They exist?

Every Western country? I do wonder if America is teetering, though.

user-206807's picture

In fact, and since the end of the Second World War, the country that has killed the most people in the world is certainly not Iran, China, Russia or North Korea...
I let you guess what country it is…
Oh, but yes, all this was only in the name of democracy!
It is time for some people to open their eyes a little and start asking themselves the right questions...

China: The Great Leap Forward; millions dead because of Mao's cruel incompetence.

Russia (Soviet Union): Stalin's purges. Gulags bursting at the seams with every political, religious and ethnic group Uncle Joe arbitrarily decided worthy of liquidation.

Sorry, you historical revisionist, but the countries you mentioned are absolutely guilty of some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. Often rivalling the Nazis in their cruelty and inhumanity.

user-206807's picture

My historical revisionism?

These are the numbers (will you accuse me of revisionism again?):
So answer whatever you want, I won't answer back. I do not wish to have any conversation with a moron of your kind.

Rayann Elzein's picture

That's why I avoid the USA.

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