Australia Presses Iran to Release 3 Citizens From Prison

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s foreign minister says her government is pressing Iran to free three Australian citizens from a Tehran prison and she does not believe their arrests are related to Iran’s current conflicts with the West.
  
Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the Senate on Thursday that she has raised the arrests of two British-Australian women and an Australian man “many times” with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
  
Analysts and family members of dual nationals detained in Iran long have said hard-liners in the Islamic Republic’s security agencies use the prisoners as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.
  
Payne says she does not believe the arrests of Perth couple Mark Firkin and Jolie King or the earlier arrest of a Melbourne academic whose name hasn’t been released “relate to broader issues.”

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