Iran Frees Five British Sailors Detained for ‘Illegal Entry’

December 2, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Five British sailors on their way to Dubai for a yacht race, captured by Iran after mistakenly drifting into Iranian waters, were released today by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. After a week of tense negotiations between Britain and authorities in Iran, the five yachtsmen were freed this morning, after a week’s interrogation revealed they strayed into Iranian territory by mistake.

The five sailors were detained after the Revolutionary Guard stopped their Volvo 60 yacht, named The Kingdom of Bahrain, on November 25.

According to Iranian radio, a statement released by the Revolutionary Guard said interrogations had revealed their “illegal entry” had been “a mistake.”

“After carrying out an investigation and interrogation of the five British sailors, it became clear that their illegal entry was a mistake. After obtaining necessary guarantees, it was decided to release them,” read the Revolutionary’s Guard statement.

Iranian authorities are towing the sailors to international waters. “We understand that they are being towed to international waters and will be met by a representative from the sailing company,” said a Foreign Office statement.

The five sailors, Luke Porter, 21, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, Oliver Smith, 31, from Southampton, Oliver Young, 21, from Saltash, Cornwall, Sam Usher, 26, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and Bahrain-based David Bloomer, who is believed to be in his 60s, left the Island of Siri on their way to safety.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband referred to the capture, as “a purely consular case.” Miliband said he was pleased that the matter had been dealt with in a “professional and straightforward way” by the Iranian authorities.

As to the race: The 360-nautical mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race began on November 26 and ended two days later.

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