British sailors speak out in media

Other News Materials 9 April 2007 15:27 (UTC +04:00)

(AP) - One of the British sailors detained by Iran for nearly two weeks believed she was being measured for a coffin, a newspaper reported Monday.

The Sun newspaper also reported that Faye Turney, 25, was told by her captors that her 14 male colleagues had been released while she alone was being held.

Another sailor, Arthur Batchelor, 20, said he was singled out by his captors because he was the youngest of the crew.

The interviews were the first results of the Ministry of Defense's decision to allow the former captives to sell their stories to the media. The financial arrangements for Turney and Batchelor were not disclosed, but Turney said the offer she accepted was not the largest she had been offered.

The Sun said Turney feared at one point that she would be killed.

"One morning, I heard the noise of wood sawing and nails being hammered near my cell. I couldn't work out what it was. Then a woman came into my cell to measure me up from head to toe with a tape," The Sun quoted Turney as saying.

"She shouted the measurements to a man outside. I was convinced they were making my coffin."

Turney said she asked one Iranian official where her male colleagues were.

"He rubbed the top of my head and said with a smile, 'Oh no, they've gone home. Just you now,'" she said.

At another time, Turney said the same official asked her how she felt about dying for country.

By her fifth day in detention, she said she was told that she could be free within two weeks if she confessed that the crew had intruded into Iranian waters.

"If I didn't, they'd put me on trial for espionage and I'd go to prison for several years. I had just an hour to think about it," The Sun quoted her as saying.

"If I did it, I feared everyone in Britain would hate me. But I knew it was my one chance of fulfilling a promise to Molly (her daughter) that I'd be home for her birthday on May 8.

"I decided to take that chance, and write in such a way that my unit and my family would know it wasn't the real me."

Batchelor said in an interview with the Daily Mirror that he found his capture "beyond terrifying."

"They seemed to take particular pleasure in mocking me for being young," he said. "A guard kept flicking my neck with his index finger and thumb. I thought the worst."

Retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Cordingly said Monday he believes the sailors and marines were being used "almost as a propaganda tool" by the British government.

"I was depressed because I thought the team were so good on the press conference - they didn't overplay their unpleasant experience and we could all imagine what they had gone through," Cordingly said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview.

"I think it's unfortunate the (Ministry of Defense) are using the sailors and Marines in this way. They are using them almost as a propaganda tool and it seems to be encouraging us to feel irritated with Iran rather than dialogue going on," he said.