In new letter, sailor says she was ‘sacrificed’,Propaganda war heats up amid British anger over Iran’s display of troops
(AP) TEHRAN, Iran – The Iranian Embassy released a third letter purportedly written by British sailor Faye Turney saying she has been “sacrificed” to the policies of the British and U.S. governments.The letter, addressed to the British people, also said that Turney had been treated well, unlike the prisoners held by the at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “I’m writing to you as a British serviceperson who has been sent to Iraq, sacrificed due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair government,” the letter said.It also said: “It is now time to ask our government to make a change to its oppressive behavior” toward others.Earlier on Friday, another of the 15 British service members held captive in Iran appeared on the government’s Arabic-language TV and apologized for entering Iranian waters “without permission.”British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government has insisted that its navy personnel were captured in Iraqi waters, immediately denounced the broadcast and said it would only lead to further isolation for Iran. The standoff has added to tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and over allegations that Iran is arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq.“I don’t know why the Iranian regime keeps doing this, all it does it heightens people’s sense of disgust. Captured personnel being paraded and manipulated in this way, it doesn’t fool anyone,” he said in a brief statement. “And what the Iranians have to realize is that if they continue in this way they will face continued isolation.”Three sailors seen on TV
In the video Friday, Royal Marine rifleman Nathan Thomas Summers was shown sitting with another male serviceman and Turney against a pink floral curtain. Both men wore camouflage fatigues with a label saying “Royal Navy” on their chests and a small British flag stitched to their left sleeves. Turney wore a blue jumpsuit and a black headscarf.“Again I deeply apologize for entering your waters,” Summers said in the clip broadcast on Al-Alam television. “We trespassed without permission.”British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who also denounced the broadcast as “appalling,” said a letter from Iran on the detention of the 15 sailors and marines had done nothing to bring the standoff to a close.The TV showed pictures of the light British naval boats at the time of the sailors’ seizure. The helicopter flying in the background was British, the Al-Alam newscaster said.Tehran chides U.N. Security Council
Meanwhile, the Iranian Embassy in London criticized the U.N. Security Council for getting involved in the crisis over the captured British sailors.In an e-mail statement, the embassy said that the Security Council resolution was passed in violation of its own mandate. “This case can and should be settled through bilateral channels,” the statement said. “The British government’s attempt to engage third parties, including the Security Council, with this case is not helpful.”Earlier this week, it appeared the two countries were moving toward a resolution of the crisis. Mottaki told reporters Wednesday that Turney would be freed shortly.However, the Iranians were angered by tough talk out of London, including a freeze on most bilateral contacts and a British move to refer the issue to the U.N. Security Council.‘Grave concern’
On Thursday, the council expressed “grave concern” over Iran’s seizure of the military personnel and called for an early resolution of the escalating dispute.On Friday, however, the Turkish prime minister’s office said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had indicated his government is willing to reconsider freeing Turney, who is married and has a young daughter.Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Ahmadinejad on Thursday evening, said Erdogan’s spokesman, Akif Beki. Ahmadinejad told the prime minister that Iran was “willing to reconsider the issue of the release of the woman crew member,” Beki said.Iran claims the British sailors and marines, part of a Royal Navy force patrolling the Persian Gulf for smugglers, were operating in its waters when captured last Friday. The incident came several months into the escalating standoff between Iran and the United Nations over Tehran’s nuclear program.An Iranian news agency reported earlier in the day that Iran’s Foreign Ministry sent a message to the British embassy in Tehran calling for a guarantee by London to avoid violating Iranian territorial waters in the future.Until now, Iran has said the matter could only be resolved if Britain admitted its sailors were trespassing.Crude oil prices kept soaring Friday as a jittery market worried that oil exports could be affected by the British-Iranian crisis.After settling at a six-month high a day earlier, light, sweet crude futures rose another 45 cents to $66.48 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.Trading settled Thursday at $66.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange — the highest settlement price since Sept. 8, 2006, when crude finished at $66.25.
(Guardian News) Second ‘confession’ letter released questioning UK’s presence in Iraq.The Iranian hostage crisis took a sinister turn last night when Tehran withdrew an earlier offer to release one of the 15 captive sailors and marines and issued a second, strangely-worded letter in her name calling for Britain to withdraw from Iraq. The letter, signed by Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only woman in the naval crew seized last Friday, was addressed to “representatives of the House of Commons”. Although the letter was handwritten, it was stilted and lacked the personal tone of the first letter, sent to her family the day before. The second letter appeared to have been dictated to her.“Unfortunately during the course of our mission we entered Iranian waters. Even through our wrongdoing, they have still treated us well and humanely, which I am and always will be eternally grateful,” the letter said. “I ask representatives of the House of Commons after the government had promised this type of incident would not happen again why have they let this occur and why has the government not been questioned over this? Isn’t it time for us to start withdrawing forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?” A No 10 source said: “It is cold and callous to be doing this to a woman at a time when she is being detained in this way.” The letter was released during a day of rising tensions and diverging negotiating positions. Tony Blair said he was still willing to put the whole incident down to a “misunderstanding”. “The important thing is we just keep making it very clear to the Iranian government it is not a situation that will be relieved by anything but the unconditional release of all our people,” he said. The UN security council yesterday released a statement expressing its “grave concern” at the capture of the sailors and marines. However, the wording of the statement was weaker than Britain had hoped after council members, notably Russia, balked at a draft that asked for the Britons’ immediate release and stated that the navy boats were in Iraqi waters. The UN moves were part of a British effort focused on building international solidarity and isolating Iran. The EU and an Arab summit in Riyadh were lobbied for statements criticising Iran’s actions. The Iranian response was to dig in. An offer of diplomatic access to the British captives and to release Leading Seaman Turney was dropped. The head of the country’s national security council, Ari Larijani, told state TV that the British government had “miscalculated this issue, and if they follow through with the threats, the case may face a legal path”, an apparent reference to a future trial. Another Iranian news agency quoted the military chief, General Ali Reza Afshar, saying that as a result of Britain’s “wrong behaviour” the release of the woman sailor had been “suspended”, reversing an undertaking given the day before by the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. Meanwhile, a coastguard officer appeared on television to deliver a rebuttal of Britain’s account of Friday’s incident, displaying a map and GPS monitors purporting to show that the British navy patrol had been in Iranian waters. In an ITV interview Mr Blair was asked directly about the treatment of Leading Seaman Turney, who is the mother of a three-year-old girl, and who was shown on Iranian TV on Wednesday “confessing” to having entered Iranian waters. He said: “I just think it’s … a disgrace when people are used in that way. The longer it goes on, the more the pressure will be stepped up. We are going to have to step up pressure, not just with them in the UN and the European Union, but see what further measures are necessary to get them to understand it’s not merely wrong but only going to result in further tension.” Last night the Foreign Office said it was giving “serious consideration” to a confidential note from the Iranian government about the 15 captives. A spokeswoman said the note’s contents could not be discussed but would receive a formal response.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – One of the 15 British service members held captive in Iran appeared Friday on state television and said he apologized “deeply” for entering Iranian waters, and the country released a third letter supposedly from the one woman in the crew saying she has been “sacrificed” by Britain. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government has insisted that its navy personnel were captured in Iraqi waters, immediately condemned Iran’s treatment of the captives, saying it “doesn’t fool anyone.” In the video Friday, Royal Marine rifleman Nathan Thomas Summers was shown sitting with another male serviceman and the female British sailor Faye Turney against a pink floral curtain. Both men wore camouflage fatigues with a label saying “Royal Navy” on their chests and a small British flag stitched to their left sleeves. Turney wore a blue jumpsuit and a black headscarf. “We trespassed without permission,” Summers said, adding he knew that Iran had seized British military personnel who strayed into their waters three years ago. “This happened back in 2004 and our government said that it wouldn’t happen again,” Summers said. “And, again, I deeply apologize for entering your waters.” It was not known whether the marine spoke under pressure from his captors, but Summers said in the broadcast “our treatment has been very friendly.” “I really don’t know why the Iranian regime keep doing this. I mean all it does is enhance people’s sense of disgust. Captured personnel being paraded and manipulated in this way doesn’t fool anyone,” he said. “What the Iranians have to realize is that if they continue in this way, they will face increasing isolation.” Iran earlier broadcast a video showing Turney saying her team had “trespassed” in Iranian waters, and on Friday released a third letter from her. The first two letters attributed to Turney said she was sorry the crew strayed into Iranian waters and asked if it wasn’t time for Britain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. The first letter was wooden; the second and third had language that was even more stilted. “I am writing to you as a British serviceperson who has been sent to Iraq, sacrificed due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair governments,” the letter Friday said. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who also denounced Friday’s video as “appalling,” said a letter from Iran on the detention of the 15 sailors and marines had done nothing to bring the standoff to a close. “There is nothing in the letter to suggest that the Iranians are looking for a way out,” Beckett told the British Broadcasting Corp. The letter stopped short of asking for a formal apology but instead asked for Britain to acknowledge its sailors had trespassed into Iranian waters and confirm that it would not happen again. The standoff has added to tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and over allegations that Iran is arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq. The sailors, part of a U.N.-mandated force patrolling the Persian Gulf, were seized off the Iraqi coast while searching merchant ships for evidence of smuggling. Britain insists the sailors were seized in Iraqi waters and has said no admission of error would be made. The TV showed pictures of the light British naval boats at the time of the sailors’ seizure. The helicopter flying in the background was British, the Al-Alam newscaster said. Britain has frozen most bilateral contacts and referred the issue to the U.N. Security Council, which expressed “grave concern” over Iran’s seizure of the military personnel. Iran subsequently rolled back an offer to free Turney. The Iranian Embassy in London said Friday the Security Council had no place in what it called a purely bilateral dispute: “The British Government’s attempt to engage third parties, including the Security Council, with this case is not helpful.” Hours before the council issued its statement, a top Iranian official suggested his country may put the Britons on trial. If Britain continued its current approach, “this case may face a legal path,” Ali Larijani, the main negotiator in Iran’s foreign dealings, said on state radio. “British leaders have miscalculated this issue.” Despite the escalating rhetoric, the office of the Turkish prime minister—who is trying to mediate the dispute—said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had indicated his government is willing to reconsider freeing Turney, who is married and has a young daughter. Iran, which faced new Security Council sanctions just last week over its refusal to abandon uranium enrichment in its disputed nuclear program, has found few open defenders in the crisis. Iran first broadcast the footage of the captives, both Wednesday’s and Friday’s video, on its Arabic-language TV channel, Al-Alam, rather than on its main Farsi channels. The decision, which was not explained, appeared to be an attempt to seek support from Arabs in Iraq and the Gulf states, where many resent Britain’s military deployment in Iraq and its historical role as a colonial power in the region. The Iraqi foreign minister has taken Britain’s side, reiterating Friday that the navy personnel were captured in its territorial waters. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also said the Iraqi government was in contact with Iran to “ensure the wise handling of the case.” The European Union vowed solidarity with Britain, but some diplomats also warned against avoid unnecessary escalation. “We must put very strong pressure on the Iranians,” French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said in a radio interview in Paris. “I think we must avoid confrontation and escalation.” In Tehran, about 700 people staged a brief demonstration against the British sailors’ actions. Leaving Tehran University campus after Friday prayers, the protesters walked a few hundred yards down the road chanting “Death to Britain!” and “We condemn the British invasion!” Crude oil prices kept soaring Friday as a jittery market worried that oil exports could be affected by the British-Iranian crisis. After settling at a six-month high a day earlier, light, sweet crude futures rose 52 cents to $66.55 a barrel in European electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading settled Thursday at $66.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange—the highest settlement price since Sept. 8, 2006, when crude finished at $66.25.
(SKY News) The brother of a captured sailor, who appeared in a newly-released Iranian video, has told him to “stay strong” during his ordeal.Nick Summers, who is also in the Navy, told Sky News his brother Nathan looked to be “OK” but his family just wanted him home “safe and well”.Talking to his brother, Nick said: “Just hang in there mate, stay strong.”He said that Nathan appeared on the video to be acting normally and not distressed.Nick described his brother as “very social” and a “fairly laid-back guy” who enjoyed his job.Iranian television screened footage of Nathan Summers confessing to “trespassing” into Iranian waters – the second captured Royal Navy sailor to do so.A European Union statement will reportedly call for the immediate release of the 15 British navy personnel captured by Iran in the Gulf, the Danish foreign minister said.Tony Blair has expressed his “disgust” at the treatment by the Iranians of the sailors and marines in custody.The Prime Minister said the “manipulation” of the British personnel would fool no one.He said the Government needed to show “firmness and determination” as well as patience in dealing with the crisis.In the footage, Summers said that he wanted to “apologise” to the Iranian people for what happened.He is said to have said: “We entered Iranian waters without permission. We were arrested by Iranian border guards and I would like to apologise to the Iranian people for this.”The Foreign Office angrily condemned the broadcast of the latest pictures.“Using our military personnel for purposes of propaganda like this is outrageous,” a spokesman said.Sky sources have revealed the details of a letter sent by Iran’s foreign ministry to the British Embassy in Tehran over the crisis.The Iranians are calling for the establishment of a technical forum to ensure British forces do not enter their territorial waters again.A Foreign Office spokesman revealed: “We can confirm that, as reported in the Iranian media, the Iranian government has sent a formal note to the British Embassy.”The UN Security Council has expressed its “grave concern” over the Iran hostage crisis and called for the 15 British service personnel to be released.But the statement has fallen far short of the strong condemnation Britain had wanted.The eight Royal Navy sailors and seven Royal Marines were seized a week ago today after claims they strayed into Iranian waters.The UK denies the claim and is continuing to demand that the captives be freed immediately.Meanwhile two more of the captured Royal Navy personnel have been named by the Sun newspaper.It says Marines Adam Sperry, 22, and Joe Tindell, 21, are being held along with 13 other British soldiers and sailors.Marine Sperry’s widowed mum Sandra, told The Sun: “I’m very proud of my son, but I just want him to come back home. Please let him go
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The U.N. Security Council expressed “grave concern” Thursday over Iran’s seizure of 15 British sailors and marines and called for an early resolution of the escalating dispute, but Iran’s chief international negotiator suggested the captives might be put on trial. The council’s statement wasn’t as tough as Britain had hoped, though, and the divide seemed to deepen. As the standoff drove world oil prices to new six-month highs, Turkey, NATO’s only Muslim member, reportedly sought to calm tensions by urging Iran to let a Turkish diplomat meet with the detainees and to free the lone woman among the Britons. Tensions had seemed to be cooling a day earlier, but after Iran offended leaders by airing a video of the prisoners and Britain touched a nerve in Tehran by seeking U.N. help, positions hardened even more Thursday.Iran retreated from a pledge by Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki that the female sailor, Faye Turney, would be released soon. Mottaki then repeated that the matter could be resolved if Britain admitted its sailors mistakenly entered Iranian territorial waters last Friday. Britain’s Foreign Office insisted again that the sailors and marines were seized in an Iraqi-controlled area while searching merchant ships under a U.N. mandate and said no admission of error would be made. With Britain taking its case to the United Nations, Ali Larijani, the top Iranian negotiator in all his country’s foreign dealings, went on Iranian state radio to issue a warning. He said that if Britain continued its current approach, “this case may face a legal path” – a clear reference to Iran prosecuting the sailors and marines in court. “British leaders have miscalculated this issue,” he said. Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, Iran’s military chief, blamed the backtracking on releasing the British woman on “wrong behavior” by her government. “The release of a female British soldier has been suspended,” the semiofficial Iranian news agency Mehr said.The Security Council’s statement was a watered-down version of a stronger draft sought by Britain to “deplore” Iranian actions and urge the immediate release of the prisoners, primarily because Russia and South Africa opposed putting blame on the Tehran regime, diplomats said. Russia also objected to the council adopting Britain’s position that its sailors were operating in Iraqi waters when they were captured, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity. With agreement required from all 15 members for a statement’s wording, the parties spent more than four hours in private talks before emerging with wording softer than had been sought by Britain, which is also known as the United Kingdom. “Members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the capture by the Revolutionary Guard and the continuing detention by the government of Iran of 15 United Kingdom naval personnel and appealed to the government of Iran to allow consular access in terms of the relevant international laws,” the statement said. “Members of the Security Council support calls including by the secretary-general in his March 29 meeting with the Iranian foreign minister for an early resolution of this problem including the release of the 15 U.K. personnel.”South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said negotiations were needed to ensure the statement focused on the agreed facts. “There is no political twisting of anything that happened,” he said. British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry expressed satisfaction with the statement and said he hoped it would send “the right message” to the Iranian government that it should provide immediate access to the prisoners and bring their prompt release. Earlier, Iranian state television reported what was believed to be Ahmadinejad’s first comment on the standoff, saying he accused Britain of using propaganda rather than trying to solve the matter quietly through diplomatic channels. Iran’s state TV also said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip had contacted Ahmadinejad seeking permission for a Turkish diplomat to meet with the seized Britons and urging the release of Turney, the female sailor. Erdogan’s move was seen as a possible opening to mediation in the faceoff because Turkey is one of the few countries that has good relations with both Iran and the West. The report said Ahmadinejad promised that Erdogan’s appeal would be studied, but also told the Turkish leader that the detention case had entered a legal investigation phase. State television also broadcast a video it said showed show the operation that seized the British sailors and marines. In the clip, a helicopter hovers above inflatable boats in choppy seas, then the Royal Navy crews are seen seated in an Iranian vessel. The video came a day after Iran broadcast a longer video showing the Britons in captivity. That video included a segment showing Turney saying her team had “trespassed” in Iranian waters. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett condemned Iran’s use of Turney for what she called “propaganda purposes,” calling it “outrageous and cruel.” The Iranians released a letter Wednesday purportedly written by Turney to her family saying the British sailors were in Iranian waters. And the video aired Thursday showed another letter supposedly by Turney to Britain’s Parliament calling for British troops to leave Iraq. “I ask the representatives of the House of Commons, after the government promised that this kind of incident wouldn’t happen again, why did they let this occur, and why has the government not been questioned over this,” the letter read. “Isn’t it time to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?” Some experts raised questions about that letter, saying its wording hinted it was first composed in Farsi and then translated into English. “It’s obviously been dictated to her,” said Nadim Shehadi, an expert on Iran at the Chatham House think tank in London. “There’s no way she would phrase it like that.” Beckett said there were “grave concerns about the circumstances in which it was prepared and issued.” “This blatant attempt to use Leading Seaman Turney for propaganda purposes is outrageous and cruel,” Beckett said. A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain wanted to resolve the crisis quickly and without having a “confrontation over this.” “We are not seeking to put Iran in a corner. We are simply saying, ‘Please release the personnel who should not have been seized in the first place,'” said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. But in a briefing to reporters, the spokesman said British officials had been angered by Tehran’s decision to show video of the captives. “Nobody should be put in that position. It is an impossible position to be put in,” he said. “It is wrong. It is wrong in terms of the usual conventions that cover this. It is wrong in terms of basic humanity.”
(The Jerusalem Post) Recent modifications made to the Arrow enable Israel’s ballistic missile defense system to successfully intercept and destroy any ballistic missile in the Middle East, including nuclear-capable missiles under development by Iran, Arieh Herzog, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Homa Missile Defense Agency, has told The Jerusalem Post. In a rare interview that will appear in full in Monday’s Post, Herzog provides an inside look at the decision-making process behind Israel’s missile defense systems, led by the Israeli- and American-developed Arrow missile, one of the only operational ballistic missile defense systems in the world. On Monday, the IAF successfully tested a newly modified Arrow interceptor. Iran and Syria, Herzog said, were investing unprecedented amounts of money in long-range ballistic missile capabilities – with the help of North Korea – and had all but given up building modern air forces. “The Iranians are continually increasing the range of their missiles,” he said. “They are buying technology and in some cases even complete systems from North Korea and other countries.” Herzog also said that while there might be missile systems in Iranian hands that the Arrow could not intercept, all of the ballistic missiles “currently operational” in the Islamic Republic could be destroyed by the Israeli defense system. “Our Arrow operational system can without a doubt deal with all of the operational threats in the Middle East, particularly in Iran and Syria,” he declared. A branch of the Defense Ministry’s Research and Development Directorate, Homa – Hebrew for “Fortress Wall” – was established in 1991 and given a mandate to oversee the development, procurement and integration of missile defense systems, once needed against crude Iraqi Scud missiles and now to face advanced long-range Iranian Shihabs. Herzog said he favored selling the Arrow to Israel’s allies. Countries that have expressed interest include Turkey and South Korea. At the moment, however, the sale of the system is not on the table and this would only change following a joint decision by Israel and the US. “If it would be possible to sell the system, I would be in favor,” he said. “But this is a government decision that needs to be made by Israel together with the United States.” Discussing the Second Lebanon War, Herzog said a missile defense system that was effective against the short-range Katyusha – close to 4,000 struck northern Israel – could have changed the outcome in Israel’s favor. “Active protection can dramatically reduce the number of casualties,” he said, adding that this would also provide the government with improved “diplomatic maneuverability.” Such a system also serves as a deterrent. “If someone thinks that a large percentage of his missiles will be intercepted, he will think twice before attacking,” Herzog said.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Iran’s foreign minister said Wednesday that Britain must admit that its 15 sailors and marines entered Iranian waters in order to resolve a standoff over their capture by the Mideast nation. Manouchehr Mottaki’s statement in an interview with The Associated Press came on a day of escalating tensions, highlighted by an Iranian video of the detained Britons that showed the only woman captive saying her group had “trespassed” in Iranian waters. Britain angrily denounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with the Mideast nation. The Iranian official also backed off a prediction that the female sailor, Faye Turney, could be freed Wednesday or Thursday, but said Tehran agreed to allow British officials to meet with the detainees. Mottaki said that if the alleged entry into Iranian waters was a mistake “this can be solved. But they have to show that it was a mistake. That will help us to end this issue.”“Admitting the mistake will facilitate a solution to the problem,” he said late Wednesday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was attending an Arab summit. It was the first time that Iran has publicly suggested a way to resolve the crisis, but British acquiescence appeared unlikely as the country has been insisting since the crisis began that its troops were in Iraqi waters and released a GPS readout on Wednesday to back up the claim. Britain’s military said the readout proved the Royal Navy personnel were seized 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters. But in the interview, Mottaki said Iran had GPS devices from the British boats that showed they were in Iranian territory. There was no immediate comment from the British to Mottaki’s statement. A call to Britain’s Foreign Office in London was not answered early Thursday. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government announced it was freezing all dealings with Iran except to negotiate the release of its personnel, adding to a public exchange of sharp comments that helped fuel a spike in world oil prices.At the United Nations in New York, Britain asked the Security Council to support a call for the immediate release of detainees, saying in a statement they were operating in Iraqi waters under a mandate from the Security Council and at the request of Iraq, according to council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the text was not released. The issue was expected to be debated Thursday. Earlier Wednesday, a brief video of the captured Britons was shown on Iran’s Arabic language satellite television station, Al-Alam. One segment showed sailors and marines sitting in an Iranian boat in open waters immediately after their capture. The video also displayed what appeared to be a handwritten letter from Turney, 26, to her family. “I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologize for us entering their waters,” it said. The letter also asks Turney’s parents in Britain to look after her 3-year-old daughter, Molly, and her husband, Adam.The video showed Turney in checkered head scarf and her uniform eating with other sailors and marines. Later, wearing a white tunic and black head scarf, she sat in a room before floral curtains and smoked a cigarette. Turney was the only detainee to be shown speaking, giving her name and saying she had been in the navy for nine years. “Obviously we trespassed into their waters,” Turney said at one point, her voice audible under a simultaneous Arabic translation. “They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we’ve been arrested. There was no harm, no aggression.” In backing away from predictions that Turney could be freed Wednesday or Thursday, Mottaki said in the interview that Iran will look into releasing her “as soon as possible.” He said earlier the reports of her imminent release were incorrect. “I was probably misquoted,” he said.Earlier in the day, Mottaki told the AP: “Today or tomorrow, the lady will be released.” The Turkish television station, CNN-Turk, had also reported him saying Wednesday she would be freed “today or tomorrow.” But the talk of releasing Turney did little to calm British anger. Before the video was broadcast, a spokesman for Blair said any showing of British personnel on TV would be a breach of the Geneva Conventions. After the footage was aired, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said she was “very concerned about these pictures and any indication of pressure on, or coercion of, our personnel. … I am particularly disappointed that a private letter has been used in a way which can only add to the distress of the families.” The third Geneva Convention bans subjecting prisoners of war to intimidation, insults or “public curiosity.” Because there is no armed conflict between Iran and Britain, the captives would not technically be classified as prisoners of war. Blair told the House of Commons that “there was no justification whatever … for their detention, it was completely unacceptable, wrong and illegal.” “We had hoped to see their immediate release; this has not happened. It is now time to ratchet up the diplomatic and international pressure in order to make sure the Iranian government understands its total isolation on this issue,” he said. Beckett said Britain would focus all its efforts on resolving the issue. “We will, therefore, be imposing a freeze on all other official bilateral business with Iran until the situation is resolved. We will keep other aspects of our policy towards Iran under close review and continue to proceed carefully. But no one should be in any doubt about the seriousness with which we regard these events,” she said. The statement appeared to refer to diplomatic dealings rather than business relations, but Britain’s Department of Trade said the country does not buy oil directly from Iran. Oil prices rose by more than $1 a barrel Wednesday to a six-month high amid worries about the standoff, which came as the U.S. Navy is carrying out its largest show of force in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. President Bush discussed the 15 Britons with Blair over a secured video conference call Wednesday, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. “The president fully backs Tony Blair and our allies in Britain,” she said. British officials have said the 15 Britons were taken captive after completing a search of a civilian ship near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which forms the border between Iran and Iraq. In London, British military officials released new information about the seizure, saying satellite positioning readings showed the vessels were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters. Vice Adm. Charles Style gave the satellite coordinates as 29 degrees 50.36 minutes north latitude and 48 degrees 43.08 minutes east longitude. He said that position had been confirmed by an Indian-flagged merchant ship boarded by the sailors and marines. He also told reporters the Iranians had provided a geographical position Sunday that he said was in Iraqi waters. By Tuesday, he said, Iranian officials had given a revised position 2 miles to the east, inside Iranian waters. “It is hard to understand a legitimate reason for this change of coordinates,” Style said.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran may delay the release of the female British sailor if Britain takes the issue to the U.N. Security Council or freezes relations, the country’s top negotiator Ali Larijani said Thursday. Speaking on Iranian state radio, Larijani said: “British leaders have miscalculated this issue.” If Britain follows through with its policies on the 15 British sailors and marines detained by Iran last week, Larijani said “this case may face a legal path” – a clear reference to Iran’s prosecuting the sailors in court. Earlier Thursday, Britain asked the Security Council to support a call for the immediate release of detainees, saying in a statement they were operating in Iraqi waters under a mandate from the Security Council and at the request of Iraq. The issue was expected to be debated Thursday. On Wednesday, Britain announced it was freezing relations with Iran.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Britain took its case to free its 15 sailors and marines held by Iran to the United Nations on Thursday, asking the Security Council to support a statement that would “deplore” Tehran’s action and demand their immediate release. But Security Council diplomats said the brief press statement circulated by Britain’s U.N. Mission is likely to face problems from Russia and others because it says the Britons were “operating in Iraqi waters”—a point that Iran contests. The British move came as Iran rolled back on its promise to release the sole female British sailor among the captives, who were seized last week. The Iranian military chief, Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, said that because of the “wrong behavior” of the British government, “the release of a female British soldier has been suspended,” the semiofficial Iranian news agency Mehr reported. Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Larijani, also hinted that the British crew members may be put on trial. The standoff and broader tensions in the Gulf region helped fuel a spike in world oil prices. The British statement was to be discussed later Thursday at a closed- door meeting of the Security Council. The text circulated to the 14 other council members said: “Members of the Security Council deplore the continuing detention by the government of Iran of 15 (United Kingdom) naval personnel.” It added that the British crew was “operating in Iraqi waters as part of the Multinational Force-Iraq under a mandate from the Security Council under resolution 1723 and at the request of the government of Iraq” and it called for their “immediate release.” A press statement is the weakest action the Security Council can take, but the statement must be approved by all council members. Diplomats said Britain was also weighing a stronger presidential statement, which unlike a press statement, is read at a formal Security Council meeting and becomes part of its official record. The council diplomats said informal discussion of the proposed British statement indicated the issue of where the incident took place raised problems for some council members, including Russia. Some members also want to hear the Iranian side, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. The British government said that its sailors and marines were seized Friday after completing a search of a civilian ship near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which forms the border between Iran and Iraq, under a mandate from the Security Council and at the request of Iraq. Iran says the British vessels were inside its territorial waters. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official spokesman dismissed a suggestion Wednesday by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki that Britain should resolve the crisis by admitting that its personnel had made a “mistake” and crossed into Iranian waters. The British initially circulated a press statement, which is the weakest action that the U.N. Security Council could take, but diplomats said they might be considering a stronger presidential statement, which unlike a press statement, is read at a formal council meeting and becomes part of its official record. Mottaki had said Wednesday that sailor Faye Turney, 26, would be released within 48 hours. Britain said it was halting all discussion with Iran except negotiations to free the detained sailors, and expressed outrage over Iran’s broadcast of images of the captured service members. Larijani said on Iranian state radio that: “British leaders have miscalculated this issue.” If Britain follows through with its policies toward Iran, Larijani said “this case may face a legal path”—a clear reference to Iran’s prosecuting the sailors in court. Blair’s official spokesman said Britain wanted to resolve the crisis quickly and without having a “confrontation over this.” “We are not seeking to put Iran in a corner. We are simply saying, ‘Please release the personnel who should not have been seized in the first place,'” said the spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. But in a briefing to reporters, the spokesman said British officials had been angered by Tehran’s decision to show the captives on Iranian television. “Nobody should be put in that position. It is an impossible position to be put in,” he said. “It is wrong. It is wrong in terms of the usual conventions that cover this. It is wrong in terms of basic humanity.” Britain’s ambassador to Tehran lodged an official complaint of Iran’s decision to show the video, the Foreign Office said. “Today the British ambassador in Tehran met with Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to protest about the TV pictures of Leading Seaman Faye Turney,” said a Foreign Office spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. In the video that was broadcast Wednesday on Iran’s Arab-language satellite channel, Turney said her group had “trespassed” in Iranian waters. The segment showed her wearing a black head scarf, sitting in a room before floral curtains and smoking a cigarette. “Obviously we trespassed into their waters,” Turney said. “They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we’ve been arrested. There was no harm, no aggression.” Britain’s Ministry of Defense released coordinates that it said proved the captured naval personnel were seized 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters. Oil prices rose by more than $1 a barrel Wednesday to a six-month high as the U.S. Navy completed its largest show of force in the Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. President Bush has discussed the 15 Britons with Blair, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said, and fully backs the British position.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday Congress should look for ways to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, but said any solution must ensure some detainees would remain incarcerated for life. “Is there a way statutorily to address the concerns about some of these people who really need to be incarcerated forever but that doesn’t get them involved in a judicial system where there is the potential of them being released, frankly?” Gates said at a congressional hearing. “I just don’t know the answer,” he said. Gates called for Congress and the White House to discuss the issue. The United States has faced international criticism over its continued detention of about 385 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. Human rights groups and other critics have demanded the United States close Guantanamo and that detainees be charged with crimes or released. President George W. Bush and administration officials have said they would like to close Guantanamo. But they argue it is difficult to accomplish because of the trials to be held there and the group of detainees the United States says should be imprisoned for life. According to Gates, some of the detainees have said they would attack the United States again if released. If the United States moves the detainees to some other location, the federal government must ensure the prisoners cannot find a legal avenue to freedom. “It’s an area where frankly I think there needs to be some dialogue between the Congress and the administration,” he said.
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