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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, August 13, 2019 (image for illustration). The Canberra government has changed its recommendations to travelers to Iran. Wallace Woon / Pool via REUTERS

The Australian government announced on Wednesday (September 11th) that three of its citizens were being held in Iran without providing any further information. Tehran has carried out a series of arrests of Westerners in a context of deteriorating relations after Washington's withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

" The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the families of three Australian detainees in Iran, " a government spokesman told AFP, without giving further details on grounds of confidentiality.

Two women detained in Evin

The British daily The Times had previously reported that two women, dual Australian and British nationals, were detained in Evin Prison in Tehran. According to Australian state television ABC, the Australian mate of one of these women was also arrested.

At this point, it is unclear whether any charges have been brought against these three Australians, including a woman who may have been detained for a year.

The announcement of the arrests comes after the " modest " contribution of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the protection mission to merchant ships in the strategic strait of Ormuz. The United States, Britain and Bahrain created this naval air mission after a series of tanker attacks in this critical oil trading region.

The Canberra government had also changed its recommendations to travelers to Iran, asking them to " weigh again if the trip was necessary " and " not to travel " near border areas with Iraq or Afghanistan.

Several binationals currently imprisoned

Several foreigners, mostly binational, are currently imprisoned in Iran . These detentions are a means of pressure for Tehran in a context of deteriorating relations between Iran and Western countries after the US unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement.

(with AFP)