British Servicemen Deny They Were in Iranian Waters, Describe Ordeal

By Patrick Goodenough | April 6, 2007 | 8:18 PM EDT

( - British sailors and marines who were held hostage in Iran for 13 days told a press conference in Devon, England, on Friday that they had been arrested in what were undoubtedly Iraqi waters.

"When taken by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, we were well inside Iraqi waters," said Royal Navy Lieut. Felix Carman, 26.

He and Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air, 25, accompanied by several others of the detained group, described the Iranians who apprehended the 15 Britons as "deliberately aggressive."

They were blindfolded, and their hands were bound. They faced psychological pressure while being held in stone cells of about eight by six feet, and all were kept in isolation. They also described being put up against a wall, while blindfolded, and hearing weapons being cocked.

They were not allowed to speak to each other and had no indication of whether the outside world even knew of their plight. Leading Seaman Faye Turney, 26, the one woman in the group, was held separately.

Some evenings, they were brought together allowed to play chess or socialize, but only for the television cameras -- a move they called a "stunt" and "propaganda."

They said they were interrogated most nights, given option to admit guilt about their location at the time of arrest or face up to seven years in prison.

On day 12, the group was taken to a government complex, blindfolded and given three-piece suits to wear. They watched president's statement on television, and only then learned they were to be released.

Air said that had the group fought the Revolutionary Guard when apprehended, it would have caused a major international incident. They had only seconds to make a decision -- to try to reason with the Iranians rather than fight -- and believe they made the right one.

Asked about their views now on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranians, Marine Joe Tindell, 21, said: "The whole thing was a complete media stunt. I'm not their biggest fan -- let's put it that way."

Ahmadinejad said earlier he had agreed to "pardon" the Britons and release them as a "gift" to the British people.





Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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