Iranian TV Channel Airs New Video Of 2 Seized British Crew Members
Sunday, April 1st 2007, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran's official Arabic language television channel aired short video clips Sunday showing what it said were two of the 15 captured British sailors pointing to a map of the Persian Gulf.
The two, who appeared in separate video clips wearing military fatigues and pointing at the same map, were talking to a camera but the channel did not air their voices. The newscaster said the two ``have confessed'' to ``illegally'' trespassing in Iranian waters.
An Iranian Farsi-language TV station aired the voices of the two crew members from the new video.
Al-Alam satellite TV said the two sailors were identifying where their boat crossed into Iranian waters on March 23, leading to their capture. Iran insists the sailors illegally entered its waters, but Britain says the team was in Iraqi waters.
Eight British sailors and seven marines were detained by Iranian naval units while patrolling for smugglers as part of a U.N.-mandated force monitoring the Persian Gulf. They were seized by Iranian naval units near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab, a waterway that has long been a disputed dividing line between Iraq and Iran.
Al-Alam gave more details about the incident, saying the 15 left their ship in a small boat on the morning of March 23 and entered the Iranian waters at 10 a.m. local time.
The broadcast said the captured sailors have said they are receiving ``good and humanitarian treatment.''
Britain's Foreign Office denounced the video, saying it was ``completely unacceptable for these pictures to be shown on TV.''
Al-Alam broadcast longer videos of the Britons earlier this week, including footage on Friday of captured marine Nathan Thomas Summers apologizing for entering Iranian waters ``without permission'' and admitting to trespassing in Iranian waters.
He was shown sitting with another serviceman and the female British sailor Faye Turney against a floral curtain. Both servicemen wore camouflage fatigues with a Royal Navy label on their chests and a little British flag stitched to their left sleeves.
Al-Alam also aired video on Wednesday showing Turney wearing a headscarf and saying: ``Obviously we trespassed.''
Iran has also made public three letters purportedly written by Turney. The last letter contained an apology.
Britain has denounced the videos, calling them ``propaganda'' and ``outrageous.''
Iran's decision to air three videos on its Arabic-language TV channel, rather than on its main Farsi channels has not been explained. But it appears to be an attempt to seek support from Arabs in Iraq and the Gulf states, where many resent Britain's military deployment in Iraq and its historical role as a colonial power in the region.
Earlier on Sunday, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said his government was in ``direct, bilateral communication with the Iranians.'' A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman said Browne was referring to letters and other contacts between diplomats, rather than any new face-to-face talks.
Browne, on a visit to Afghanistan, said Britain had ``the support of almost the whole international community'' in calling for the release of its personnel.
President Bush on Saturday demanded the release of the 15 ``hostages.'' He said they were innocent and called their capture ``inexcusable behavior.''
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called world powers ``arrogant'' for refusing to apologize.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett appeared to soften rhetoric against Iran Saturday _ though she stopped far short of an apology.
``I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen,'' Beckett said during a visit to Germany. ``What we want is a way out of it.''
In Iran, hardliners called for their government to remain firm. In Tehran, about 200 Iranian youths threw rocks and firecrackers at the British Embassy in a protest on Sunday, calling for the expulsion of the country's ambassador because of the standoff.
Several dozen policemen prevented the protesters from entering the embassy compound, although a few briefly scaled a fence outside the compound's walls before being pushed back, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.
The protesters chanted ``Death to Britain'' and ``Death to America'' as they hurled stones into the courtyard of the embassy. They also demanded that the Iranian government expel the British ambassador and close down the embassy, calling it a ``den of spies.''
Britain's Foreign Office said there had been no damage to the compound.
A British Foreign Office spokeswoman in London, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said diplomats were working normally inside the embassy and were not at risk.