Iran airs new video of UK crewmen, releases new letters from Turney

Friday, March 30, 2007

Iranian television has aired new video footage of three of the fifteen UK sailors and marines seized by Iran a week ago. On Thursday evening, the Iranian Embassy in London released a second letter purported to be written by detained servicewoman Faye Turney.

The footage was released hours after Iran criticized yesterday's United Nations Security Council statement, which voiced “grave concern” over the incident and called for an "early resolution" of the matter.

It is wrong. It is wrong in terms of the usual conventions that cover this. It is wrong in terms of basic humanity

—Spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair

In the video footage, three crewmen are shown with one identified as Nathan Thomas Summers. Summers was seen confessing to being in Iranian waters and apologizing to the Iranian people. "We trespassed without permission," said Summers. "Since we have been arrested our treatment has been friendly. We have not been harmed at all."

"I would like to apologize for entering your waters without any permission ... I deeply apologize," continued Summers. "They have looked after us really well."

According to the BBC, the UK Foreign Office described the latest video as "disgraceful exploitation".

A hand-written note, the second letter apparently written by Faye Turney, was released by Iran on Thursday evening. The letter requests the UK government to withdraw its troops from Iraq. "Isn't it time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future," the letter states.

In reply, a Prime Minister's office spokesman said: "It is wrong. It is wrong in terms of the usual conventions that cover this. It is wrong in terms of basic humanity".

Iran has also released a third letter purporting to be from Leading Seaman Turney, addressed to the "British People". The letter states that she has been "sacrificed due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair governments" and repeats the call for the withdrawal of British and US forces from Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in response: "I really don't know why the Iranian regime keep doing this. All it does is enhance people's sense of disgust at captured personnel being paraded and manipulated in this way."

The BBC says it has been able to confirm the names of six of the 15 sailors and marines held by Iran. Apart from Leading Seaman Turney and Seaman Summers (from Shropshire and Cornwall respectively), they are: Paul Barton from Southport, Danny Masterton from Ayrshire, Joe Tindall from south London and Adam Sperry from Leicester.

On March 23, the fifteen sailors and marines from the frigate HMS Cornwall had been inspecting a ship, in what the UK identified as Iraqi waters, when they were surrounded by Iranian gunboats and taken into Iranian custody. Iran claims the UK forces were in Iranian waters, and are still detaining the fifteen.

The video, retransmitted by BBC (link to Youtube)