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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Captured British Sailors Tell Their Stories About Time in Iranian Detention

Phillip Wellman | Dubai 03 December 2009

Five British yachtsmen who were detained by Iranian authorities for nearly a week after their boat drifted into the country's waters say their situation was dealt with in a professional manner.

The recently freed men arrived in Dubai by boat on Wednesday night, smiling and waving at cameras.

They explained how they had been arrested, blindfolded and interrogated by Iran's Revolutionary Guards who originally had suspected them of having ill intentions. The Revolutionary Guards now say the yachtsmen entered Iranian waters by mistake.

According to team director Nick Crabtree, once Iranian authorities understood the sailors were not a threat, they were treated decently.

"I think it's important to reiterate here that the guys were treated very, very well during that time," Crabtree said. "I'm sure these are procedural things that get done when they're there. They've all put on weight, which many of their partners and wives aren't too happy about. But they've been treated very, very well."

The men were sailing from Bahrain to Dubai to compete in a race when they accidentally drifted into Iranian territorial waters. They say they were having problems with their boat's propeller.

The sailors were picked up by an Iranian patrol and were kept together in a padlocked room for five days.

Skipper Oliver Smith says the situation was intimidating.

"There were plenty of moments when you were very concerned about yourself and the guys and what's going to happen," Smith said. "The main issue was no information - not necessarily because the guys there on the ground weren't giving it to us. They just didn't necessarily have it. So yeah, we were quite concerned a number of times."

The incident comes at a time of strained relations between Britain and Iran over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Most Western countries believe the Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, but Iranian officials say their atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

The country's Foreign Ministry says the sailors' detention was not politically motivated.

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