Some of the 15 British Navy crew, held hostage by Iran for 13 days, have told journalists that they were definitely operating in Iraqi water when captured. They say they told to confess on television, or face 7 years in jail.
“We were blindfolded, our hands were bound, we were forced up against the wall, throughout our deal faced constant psychological pressure. Later we were stripped and then dressed in pajamas. The next few nights spent in stone sells approximately 8 feet by 6, sleeping on piles of blankets. All of us were kept in isolation,”
said Lieutenant Felix Carman, Chivenor, UK.
Speaking at a press conference, the sailors emphasized the psychological pressure they were under, including daily interrogations, and a warning that if they didn’t admit they were in Iranian waters they would face 7 years in prison.
The sailors strongly deny this claim, insisting they were well within Iraqi territory. They also defended their actions on arrest.“We were completely surrounded. And in addition to the loss of life, any attempted fire back could cause a major international incident and escalation of tension within the region. Our team had seconds to make a decision. We believe that we've made a right decision. We still believe this is the right think to do,”
said Captain Chris Air.
The only woman in the group, Faye Turney, was absent from the press conference. Her colleagues paid tribute, calling her admirable.“She was separated from us as soon as we arrived in Tehran, in the detention centre and isolated in a cell well away from many of us. She was told shortly afterwards that we were all returned home. She was under impression for about 4 days that she was the only one there. Clearly she was subjected to quite a lot of stress. She coped admirably and retained a lot of dignity,”
said Chris Air.
Iran says the release conceals no admission of guilt on their part. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he decided to forgive the 15 sailors, since Britain was 'not brave enough' to admit they were in the wrong.
Tony Blair insists no deal has been struck with Iran, and firmly denies claims that he issued a letter of apology.
The head of the Royal Navy has defended the sailor’s actions, and Britain has suspended operations in the Gulf until a full review of the incident has been carried out.
Iran has reportedly called the British sailors' press conference a 'show' dictated by the UK military.