End of term production exercise

British men detained in Iran released


Iran freed five British yachtsmen on Wednesday after their yacht deviated into Iranian waters.

After a brief detention the parties avoided a diplomatic outburst over Iran’s nuclear programme.

While Iran declares its nuclear work is aimed at a power generating demand, Western countries fear it is a cover to build bombs.

It is not the first time Iran has been detaining Britons. In 2007, eight British Royal Navy salors and seven marines were held for 15 days.

British yachtsmen arrive in Dubai in early December

Five British yachtsmen held by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard for a week Arrive in Dubai late December 2, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Foreign secretary David Milliband said it was confirmed the men were on their day to Dubai and had been properly treated.

“It was never a political matter and I welcome the fact that this had been dealt within a professional and straightforward way by the Iranian authorities. As I said yesterday, this is purely a consular case.It shows that diplomacy can work” he told journalists.

“It was a mistake to end up there … We had no intention of upsetting anyone,” declared skipper Oliver Smith, “Obviously it was a fairly tense situation the first couple of days. The longer we stayed there and they got to know us, they did relax … They treated us very well.”

British government had insisted the five men were civilians and had no “evil intentions”, in response to the warning made by a senior Iranian official, calling for a quick release.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were quoted as saying “We reached the conclusion that they entered Iran’s territorial waters by mistake. After gutting necessary guarantees, Iran released the five.”

Britain has already been accused of exaggerating about the situation in order to pressure Iran over its nuclear activities. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alleged Western Europe and the United States were disturbing the peace in the state after its presidential election on July 12th led to the biggest anti-government demonstration in the 130-year of the Islamic Republic history.

Iran's President Ahmadinejad speaking to Britons following their release

Video grab shows Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking to Britons who had been detained in Iran at a ceremony to mark their release, April 4, 2007. The 15 British naval personnel will leave the country from Tehran airport on Thursday, an official Iranian source said. REUTERS/Iranian TV via REUTERS

Three Americans are still facing detention since July, after crossing Iran’s border, incriminated with spying charges. A letter was sent to Ahmadinejad urging him to release the prisoners by over 80 prominent people including Sir Richard Branson and Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi:

“To continue to detain them without due process raises grave concerns that Iran is holding these three young Americans for political purposes and calls into question Iran’s stated commitment to the rule of law.” stated the letter.

Video Link: Iran releases British yachtsmen