- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

2:40 p.m.

ROYAL MARINE BASE CHIVENOR, England — British sailors and marines held for nearly two weeks in Iran were blindfolded, bound and threatened with prison if they did not say they had strayed into Iranian waters, a Royal Navy lieutenant who was among the captives said today.

Lt. Felix Carman, safely home with his 14 colleagues, said the crew faced harsh interrogation by their Iranian captors and slept in stone cells on piles of blankets. Unable to see and kept isolated, they heard weapons cocking.

“We were blindfolded, our hands were bound, and we were forced up against a wall. Throughout our ordeal, we faced constant psychological pressure,” Lt. Carman said. “All of us were kept in isolation. We were interrogated most nights and presented with two options. If we admitted that we’d strayed, we’d be on a plane to [Britain] pretty soon. If we didn’t, we faced up to seven years in prison.”

Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air said the crew of 15, which was out on a routine operation March 23, was confronted by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

“They rammed our boats and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs, and weapons on us. Another six boats were closing in on us,” Capt. 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 major strategic impacts. We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians.”

Britain’s top naval officer said boarding operations would be suspended while a review is conducted.

“Coalition operations continue under U.K. command,” said Adm. Jonathon Band, head of the Royal Navy. “Currently, our [operations] have been suspended while we do that review.”

While much of the country rallied behind the crew’s return, others criticized them for offering apologies where none was required — namely for appearing in videos in which they admitted entering Iranian waters and offered regrets.

Lt. Carman had been pictured on Iranian television saying he “understood” why Iran was angry that the crew had strayed into its waters. At today’s press conference, he said the crew was nearly two nautical miles from Iran’s territory — and that the crew had never apologized.

“Let me make this clear — irrespective of what was said in the past — when we were detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, we were inside internationally recognized Iraqi territorial waters,” he said. “At no time did we actually say were sorry for straying into Iranian waters.”

The most visible of the seized sailors and marines was Leading Seaman Faye Turney, a 26-year-old mother of one. Her letters home received widespread publicity in Britain, particularly one in which she requested that the British government withdraw from Iraq.

Capt. Air said she was singled out for propaganda purposes, held in solitary confinement and told the others had gone home.

“Being an Islamic country, Faye was subjected to different rules than we were. She was separated as soon as she arrived and was told that her colleagues had been flown home,” Capt. Air said. “She coped admirably and has maintained a lot of dignity.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide