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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Iran Releases 5 Detained Britons

Selah Hennessy 02 December 2009

Iranian authorities have released five British yachtsmen who were detained last week in the Persian Gulf.

A statement from Iran's Revolutionary Guards said that after investigation it reached the conclusion that their illegal entry was a mistake.

Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the release and said the yachtsmen are being towed to international waters, and were expected to head to Dubai.

A family member of one of the men kidnapped said he was very relieved by the news.

Iranian naval forces detained the Britons on November 25 as they sailed from Bahrain to Dubai for a race.

The chair of Sail Bahrain, Andrew Pindar, which owns the yacht, said the vessel "may have strayed inadvertently" into Iranian waters due to a problem with its propellor.

The news comes hours after British Foreign Minister David Miliband spoke to his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki by phone and pressed him for clear information on the incident.

Miliband denied the sailors had any malicious intent. He said the incident has "nothing to do" with politics or Iran's nuclear program.

In March 2007, Iran detained 15 British military personnel in disputed waters and held them for about two weeks, sparking a diplomatic stand-off. Tehran maintained the Britons had entered Iranian waters, while Britain insisted they were in Iraqi waters.

Iran is holding three U.S. citizens who were detained July 31 for entering Iran illegally, after they apparently strayed across the border while hiking in northern Iraq. Iran has charged the three Americans with espionage.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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