British Sailors Disclose Threats at Iranian Hands

( Lat ) - For two weeks, their televised confessions were seen by many here as a humiliating case of ``surrender first and apologize after'' by the British Navy. But on Friday, the sailors who spent 13 days in an Iranian jail disclosed that they were blindfolded and threatened into fabricating their confessions.

Their dramatic account, given only a day after leaving Tehran with gift bags of sweets and pistachios, appeared to turn Iran's carefully crafted public relations script on its head. The sailors told of being locked in isolation for days, and said they were threatened with seven years' imprisonment if they did not admit to entering Iranian waters.

``When we first went to prison, we were put up against a wall, hands bound, blindfolded and there were people cocking weapons in the background,'' Lt. Felix Carman said at a news conference with six other former captives.

Faced with a growing tide of public questions over their conduct, the sailors said they had no choice but to surrender to the ``heavily armed force'' that confronted them.

``Let me be absolutely clear, from the outset it was very apparent that fighting back was simply not an option. Had we chosen to do so, then many of us would not be standing here today,'' Marine Capt. Chris Air said.

``We were not prepared to fight a heavily armed force who, it is our impression, came out deliberately into Iraqi waters to take us prisoner,'' he said. ``We did our utmost to de-escalate the situation, but our words fell on deaf ears. They had come with a clear purpose, and were never going to leave without us.''

Air and his fellow former captives said all the navigation equipment they had on board during the incident showed without doubt they were 1.7 miles inside ``internationally recognized Iraqi territorial waters.'' Their public confessions, Carman said, were the result of intense pressure from the Iranians.

``We were interrogated most nights, and presented with two options,'' he said. ``If we admitted we had strayed, we would be on a plane back to the U.K. soon. If we didn't, we faced up to seven years in prison.

''At all times, if you listen carefully to what we said, we always used words like `apparently' or `we were perceived' or `according to this evidence.' At no time did we actually say we apologize for intruding in Iranian waters,`` he said. ''At all times, we stuck to our guns and we were conducting our operations legally.``

The sailors said Friday they had been conducting a routine search of a merchant vessel on March 23 just south of the Shatt al Arab waterway, when they saw two speed boats approaching.

''I ordered everyone to make their weapons ready, and ordered the boarding party to return to the boats,`` Air said. By the time everyone was back on board, two Iranian boats had pulled alongside their small, inflatable crafts. Air said he explained their mission to an officer who spoke good English, but when they tried to leave, the Iranians blocked their departure.

''Some of the Iranian sailors were becoming deliberately aggressive and unstable,`` he said. ''They rammed our boat and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and weapons on us.``

Another six Iranian boats were closing in, Air said.

''We realized that had we resisted, there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won with consequences that would have had major strategic impact,`` he said.

He said the Iranians boarded their boats, removed their weapons, and took them to a small Iranian naval base, where they were blindfolded and relieved of their gear. Two hours later, they were moved to another location and subjected to ''random interrogations,`` Carman said. ''The questions were aggressive and the handling rough, but it was no worse than that. ``The news conference was seen by many in Iran on Al Jazeera's English-language broadcast, but there was no immediate official reaction.

Only days before, viewers had seen smiling images of the British captives apologizing for entering Iranian waters, and thanking Iranian officials for what they said was good treatment.

''I cannot be sure who is right, who's telling the truth. But I prefer to believe my fellow countrymen are telling the truth,`` said Mahmoud Fadri, editor of the Kagozaran daily newspaper, which is close to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared dismissive of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's accusation that ''elements`` of the Iranian regime were ''backing, financing, arming, supporting terrorism in Iraq.`` Asked his response, the Iranian president laughed. ''Mr. Blair says such things a lot. I'm sorry that he says things like that,`` he said in a brief statement to the Los Angeles Times.

British naval authorities announced Friday they had suspended operations in the northern Persian Gulf, conducted under a United Nations mandate with the United States and Australia, in order to protect Iraqi oil transport and guard against transport of weapons into Iraq. Navy officers are reviewing whether procedures and rules of engagement are appropriate in light of the confrontation, which mirrored a similar capture of British sailors in 2004.

Admiral Jonathan Band, the first Sea Lord, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the United States. and Australia would continue search operations in the area. Band expressed unqualified support for the crew's conduct.

''It is quite clear to me, in the context of the operation that morning, with the force that was shown against them, they made exactly the right decision,`` he said.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Turkmen Commodity Exchange discloses data on imports from Azerbaijan
Turkmen Commodity Exchange discloses data on imports from Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan plan to accelerate work on TAP
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan plan to accelerate work on TAP
Turkmenistan's Halkbank opens tender for audit
Turkmenistan's Halkbank opens tender for audit
Loading Bars
Latest
Heidelberg shooting: German police say attacker got weapons in Austria
India’s first woman Rafale pilot Shivangi Singh takes part in R-Day parade
Steps taken by Armenia, Turkey to normalise relations are good news - EP's Turkey rapporteur
Georgian Parliament Speaker meets NATO Deputy SG
New US ambassador to Turkey presents credentials to President Erdogan
Embassy of India in Baku celebrates Republic Day (PHOTO)
Booster dose of vaccine required to prevent severe course of COVID-19 - Azerbaijani doctor
Citizens of two more countries allowed to enter Azerbaijan by air
Health structures in Azerbaijan talk COVID-19 vaccine certificate validity
Uzbekistan reveals total assets and liabilities of its banks for 2021
Uzbek Central Bank notes increase in volume of deposits for 2021
Price indexes of industrial, construction sectors at Uzbek stock exchange fall
Azerbaijan says high infectiousness, short incubation period of Omicron strain lead to infection rate growth
Georgia’s parcel shipping companies talk service tariffs in 2022
Rebalancing India’s Foreign Policy
SOCAR to supply spot pipe gas to Turkey
French ambassador convinced by importance of France-EU-Azerbaijan space co-op
Passengers of all three delayed AZAL flights on Baku-Istanbul route depart to destination airport
Advantages of using modernized floating power units in Kazakh copper project named
Azerbaijan to increase gas supplies to Turkey
Azerbaijan pays special attention to restoration of liberated lands - Permanent Representative to UN
OPEC+ expected to stick to planned March output target increase
Sweden sets new daily COVID-19 case record
Azerbaijan maintains positions in Global Firepower 2022 rating
Israel's Partner Comms gets fibre deal to connect East and West
Turkmen Commodity Exchange discloses data on imports from Azerbaijan
Georgia’s Hualing FIZ works close with Azerbaijani investors - CEO (Exclusive)
Kazakhstan to continue implementing measures to battle inflation
Iran, Azerbaijan negotiating to change truck transportation route to outskirts of Astara city - RMTO
Russia pays priority attention to macroeconomic stability - Vladimir Putin
EU, KfW, AFD to maintain support for Georgia’s energy sector
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan plan to accelerate work on TAP
Uzbekistan and Pakistan to work on preferential trade agreement
Azerbaijan's credit rating at 'BB+/B' neutral for its Eurobonds - Gazprombank
Azerbaijan confirms 3,192 more COVID-19 cases, 1,259 recoveries
Azerbaijani opposition member spared jail over sex attack on vulnerable woman in UK
Iran announces several economic executive orders
Iran seeks foreign investment for Rasht-Astara Railway Project
10 foreigners among Padma awardees
Uzbek Statistics Committee shares data on imports of electric cars
Road bridge across Astarachay River to be breakthrough in dev't of "North-South" ITC project
Georgia’s commercial banks increase net loans issuance
Kazakhstan cancels launch of methanol & olefin plant in Mangystau
AT&T profit beats estimates on strong streaming growth
Azerbaijan records decrease in loans issued for industry and manufacturing
India better placed to meet challenges: Ram Nath Kovind
Iranian president expresses openness to direct talks with US
Azerbaijan's MFA congratulates India on occasion of India's Republic Day
Azerbaijan's TABIB recommends booster COVID-19 vaccination to strengthen immunity
Azerbaijani defense minister continues official visit to Iran (PHOTO)
No one should doubt that new legislation on media in Azerbaijan will meet modern developments - Azerbaijani Media Dev't Agency
Azerbaijan's Rabitabank discloses net profit for 2021
SOCAR’s production union overfulfills production plan
Armenian PM Pashinyan tests positive for COVID-19
Iran reveals trade turnover with Caspian Sea countries
Hualing FIZ CEO talks new projects launched in 2021 (Exclusive)
SOCAR Carbamide’s revenues grow six-fold
STAR Refinery, Petkim see significant increase in recycling rate
Turkmenistan's Halkbank opens tender for audit
Russian companies submitted 14 applications for participation in restoration of Azerbaijan’s liberated territories - ambassador
SOCAR Turkey talks on prospects for new line of production at Petkim
Baku preparing to host FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Cup
Uzbekistan notes overall increase in exports within 2021
Ambassador Bocharnikov talks increased number of Russia-Azerbaijan flights
Remains of Armenian soldier found in Azerbaijan’s liberated Jabrayil district
Moscow shares Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's approach, vision on trilateral working group - ambassador
Kazakh project for copper-gold deposit dev't may receive nuclear-powered icebreaker
Ambassador talks expected visits of Russia's businessmen to Azerbaijan
Bank of Georgia allocates funds to local shoemaking company for exporting goods to US
Russian ambassador talks upcoming 20th anniversary meeting of Russia-Azerbaijan intergovernmental commission
Russian ambassador assesses work of LUKOIL in Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan's Turkmenhimiya to buy equipment via tender
Meetings of Azerbaijani, Armenian public figures to contribute to normalization of ties – Russian ambassador
Russian ambassador talks trade-economic cooperation between '3+3' countries (PHOTO)
Turkmenbashi oil refineries extends tender for hydrogen production unit construction
Russian ambassador comments on possibility of Azerbaijan joining EAEU
India Emerges as a Global Actor during the Pandemic Crisis
Russia highly appreciates Azerbaijan's position on normalization of regional situation - ambassador
Uzbek Commodity Exchange announces weekly quotes of commodities for export
Georgia’s Hualing FIZ to sign agreement on area expansion (Exclusive)
S.Korea's daily COVID-19 cases surge as new testing scheme begins
Uzbekistan proposes initiative to ensure free trade
Volume of Russian investments in Azerbaijan unveiled - ambassador
Blast in Greek capital damages buildings, one injured
JV in Kazakhstan to engage electric engine repair services via tender
Kazakhstan’s oil producing company opens tender to remove hazardous drilling waste
Kazakhstan’s vice minister of ecology, head of "Operator ROP" company detained
Turkmenistan launches unified trading platform for entrepreneurs
Azerbaijan discloses districts with highest cotton yield
Power outage in Uzbekistan leads to decrease in gas production
Kazakhstan shares data on Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund's debt
Axpo Holding places first sustainability-linked bond
Azerbaijani oil prices up
Uzbekneftegaz JSC resumes operation of its enterprises and plants following large-scale blackout
‘Nar’ takes the title of Azerbaijan champion (PHOTO)
Georgia reports new record high COVID-19 cases
Germany to support development of Azerbaijan's private sector
Turkmenistan ready to boost natural gas supplies to China
Uzbekistan's Tashkent Metro resumes operations
All news