UK cuts Iran ties, sailors shown on TV
Iran aired a video yesterday of 15 captured British sailors and marines, including the only woman captive, who said the group had “trespassed” in Iranian waters.
Britain denounced the video as an unacceptable display of prisoners and released what it called proof the group was captured in Iraqi waters. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government also announced it was freezing most contacts with Iran until the country released the crew members.
The sharp public exchanges heightened tensions between Britain and Iran as the incident dragged on into its sixth day, lowering hopes of a quick resolution. The standoff, along with massive US naval manoeuvres in the Gulf, have sent oil prices rising on world markets.
It also showed what appeared to be a handwritten letter from British sailor Faye Turney, 26, to her family that said, in part: “I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologise for us entering their waters.”
“Obviously we trespassed into their waters,” Turney said in the video. “They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we’ve been arrested. There was no harm, no aggression.”
Earlier yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Turney would be released Wednesday or today and suggested that the British vessels’ alleged entry into Iranian waters may have been a mistake.
After the footage was aired, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said she was “very concerned about these pictures and any indication of pressure on, or coercion of, our personnel. ... I am particularly disappointed that a private letter has been used in a way which can only add to the distress of the families.”
Seized sailor Faye Turner writes letter
***A copy of the letter allegedly written by captured British sailor Faye Turner yesterday, provided by the Iranian Embassy in London.
Dear mum & Dad,
I am writing to you from Iran where I am being held. I will try to explain to you the best what has happened. We were out in the boats when we were arrested by Iranian forces as we had apparently gone into Iranian waters. I wish we hadn’t because then I’d be home with you all right now. I am so sorry we did, because I know we wouldn’t be here now if we hadn’t. I want you all to know that I am well and safe. I am being well looked after. I am fed three meals a day and have a constant supply of fluids.
The people are friendly and hospitable, very compassionate and warm. I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologise for us entering into their waters. Please don’t worry about me, I am staying strong. Hopefully it won’t be long until I am home to get ready for Molly’s birthday party with a present from the Iranian people. Look after everyone for me, especially Adam and Molly.
I love you all more than you will ever know.
All my love,