( LatWp ) - State-controlled Iranian television on Monday broadcast footage of recently detained British sailors and marines playing pingpong and watching soccer, an attempt to counter charges that they were mistreated during 13 days in captivity.
Iran sparked an international political crisis with its March 23 detention of the 15 Britons who were on patrol in disputed Persian Gulf waters near the Shatt al Arab waterway. The captives were freed last week and later said they were blindfolded, taunted and feared for their lives during their detention.
Sailor Faye Turney, the only woman among the captives, said she could hear hammers and nails, and that a woman measured her height.
``I was convinced they were making my coffin,'' she told the Sun, a London tabloid.
Another sailor, Arthur Batchelor, said he was constantly interrogated. ``I was absolutely exhausted by the pressure,'' he told London's Daily Mirror. ``There were times when I feared being raped or killed.''
Despite initially allowing the sailors and marines to sell their stories, the British Defense Ministry on Monday blocked further media deals by the kidnapped crew while they reviewed the regulations.
Britain's decision to allow the sales kicked up a storm of controversy, with some Britons calling it undignified. The Guardian newspaper said Turney received close to $200,000 for her story. Batchelor was the only other sailor to sell his story.
The footage broadcast by Iran on Monday, which showed the sailors and marines relaxing in tracksuits and laughing, was the latest jab in an ongoing propaganda war between Britain and Iran.
``These pictures show the relaxation and freedom they enjoyed during their detention period,'' said the newsreader for Al Alam, Iran's state-owned Arabic-language channel, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.
``This contradicts what they said when they arrived home in Britain,'' the newscaster added. `` Tehran opened its arms and offered hospitality to the 15 British sailors.''