Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel

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On 23 March 2007, fifteen British Royal Navy personnel were illegally detained by the military forces of Iran.[1]

Contents

Incident

On March 23, fifteen Royal Navy personnel from HMS Cornwall were conducting routine patrols of Iraqi waters. Around 10:25AM (UTC+3), the British boarded a merchant vessel which was suspected of smuggling contraband into Iraq. The vessel was soon surrounded by forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and taken captive.[2]

Iranian Claims

Soon after capturing the British personnel, Iran released a set of coordinates allegedly showing the position of the British soldiers when they were captured. [3] However, Iran quickly withdrew these coordinates after the UK pointed out that they were indeed still within Iraqi waters. Iran then released a second set of coordinates, likely falsified, that allegedly showed the British personnel in Iranian waters. Iran has also stooped to the level of using the captured personnel for propaganda purposes.[4]

International Backlash

The irrational actions of Iran have been appropriately criticized by many international governments. Australia,[5] Canada,[6] The European Union,[7] Sweden,[8] The United Nations,[9] and the United States[10] have all urged the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. Iran has responded to the claims by threatening to try the soldiers for espionage, which is punishable by death in Iran.

Release

The Iranian Government released the 15 British military personnel on 5 April, 2007. The sailors and marines flew out of Tehran the same day. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said they are only being released as a "gift" to the British.[11]

Notes

  1. Seized sailors 'held in Tehran', BBC News, 3-26-2007
  2. Iranians seize 15 British sailors, The New York Times, 3-31-2007
  3. MOD briefing shows Royal Navy personnel were in Iraqi waters, Defence News, 3-28-2007
  4. Iran hostage crisis: Vile lies, The Sun, 3-30-2007
  5. Downer urges release, Herald Sun, 3-26-2007
  6. STATEMENT BY MINISTER MACKAY CALLING ON IRAN TO RELEASE BRITISH MILITARY PERSONNEL, FAITC, 3-28-2007
  7. Ominous Signs Suggest Iran War Close, PrisonPlanet, 3-27-2007
  8. Bildt kritiserar Iran, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, 3-30-2007
  9. Iran airs second sailor 'apology', BBC News, 3-31-2007
  10. Iran Should Release British Sailors Unconditionally, U.S. Says, US State Department, 3-28-2007
  11. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/world/asia/article2423712.ece
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