Friday, April 6, 2007

UPDATE: Brit Captives Tell Their Story

From the NY Times:
Treatment in Iran Described by Britons

The 15 British marines and sailors who were released by Iran on Thursday said today that they were threatened and subjected to psychological pressure before giving videotaped statements appearing to apologize for trespassing in Iranian waters.
I wonder if we'll hear the same kind of outrcy there would be if this had happened in the United States. Did you ever notice that we're held to a higher standard in the land of Freedom?
Some of the former captives said today at a news conference that they knew they were really in Iraqi waters when they were seized, and that they had no choice but to surrender quickly when surrounded by Iranian boats. They denied having ever given the Iranians genuine confessions that they had entered Iranian waters.

Once in detention, they said, they were stripped and blindfolded, isolated from one another and interrogated. On one occasion, they were blindfolded and lined up facing a wall, and could hear guns being cocked behind them.
This is wholly unacceptable behavior!
“Some of us feared the worst,” said Capt. Chris Air of the Royal Marines.

The captives were kept separately in small stone cells where they slept on piles of blankets, they said. Iranian interrogators told then that if they confessed to being in Iranian waters, they would be returned to Britain, but if they did not, they would be imprisoned for seven years. ...

Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only woman among the detainees, was held separately from the men and was told that the men had all been released, Captain Air said today. “For four days, she thought she was the only one there,” he said. ..., a group of the former captives explained at the news conference that they had spent most of their 13 days in detention in separate cells, and were not allowed to see or speak to one another until nearly the end of the ordeal, and then only while being watched by Iranian journalists.

Finally, when the captives were dressed in civilian clothes and allowed to watch Mr. Ahmadinejad announce they would be released, “there was a great deal of elation,” said Lieutenant Carman.

The captives were then lined up to meet the president, and afterward were blindfolded again and taken to a hotel.

Captain Air said today that on the day they were captured, two Iranian boats blocked them in and rammed their boats, and the Iranian crews were aggressive and seemed unstable. Another six boats quickly closed in. Captain Air said he could not calm the Iranians down, and judged that if his crew tried to resist they would both lose the fight and cause a major international incident.

“They had come with a clear purpose, and they were never going to leave without us,” Captain Air said. “I believe we made the right decision.”

On Thursday, once the captives were released and were safely in the air on the way home, Prime Minister Tony Blair set aside the careful, diplomatic language he had used during the crisis and spoke in tough, almost antagonistic, terms about possible links between the Iranian government and terrorism in Iraq. ...
So Tony Blair came out after all and said what he really thinks. I bet there's lots of ill will now.
Mr. Blair reiterated on Thursday that Britain had traded nothing in return for the detainees’ freedom. They were released, he said, “without any deal, without any negotiation, without any side agreement of any nature whatsoever.”

Britain maintained throughout that the sailors and marines were in Iraqi waters on United Nations-mandated business when they were seized. Iran contended that they had trespassed in Iranian waters and demanded that Britain apologize and never do it again — an apology Britain does not appear to have made, at least publicly.

Speaking on BBC radio, Mike Dewar, a retired army colonel who is now an expert on security issues, said that the sailors and marines had not had appropriate protection and that their capture could have been thwarted by, for instance, the presence of helicopter gunships overhead.
This is the real story we've been waiting to hear.


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