- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2007

LONDON — Britain yesterday banned all military service members from talking to the press and television in return for payment in the future, reversing its decision to allow the 15 marines and sailors held captive in Iran to sell their stories.

Defense Secretary Des Browne issued a statement saying the navy faced a “very tough call” over its initial decision to allow the payments, which came under sharp criticism. The new ban will not affect those who have given accounts, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Yesterday, in one of the first accounts, Faye Turney, the sole woman in the detained crew, said she “felt like a traitor” for agreeing to her captors’ demands to appear on Iranian TV and that she thought they had measured her for a coffin.

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

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

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

The financial arrangements for sailors Turney and Batchelor were not disclosed, but sailor Turney said the offer she accepted was not the largest she had been offered.

Mr. Browne said lessons must be learned from a review the Ministry of Defense is now conducting regarding the regulations that affect service members talking with the press.

“I want to be sure those charged with these difficult decisions have clear guidance for the future,” Mr. Browne said. “Until that time, no further service personnel will be allowed to talk to the media about their experiences in return for payment.”

The British sailors and marines were searching a merchant ship on March 23 when they and their two inflatable boats were intercepted by Iranian vessels near the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway, U.S. and British officials said. Iran insisted the British had strayed into its territorial waters, a charge that Britain denied.

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