Thursday, December 3, 2009

Iranian authorities have released five British yachtsmen who were detained last week in the Persian Gulf. A statement from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that, after investigation, it reached the conclusion that their illegal entry was a mistake.

Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed the release, and said the yachtsmen are being towed to international waters, and were expected to head to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Iranian naval forces detained the Britons on the 25th of November as they sailed from Bahrain to Dubai for a race. The chair of Sail Bahrain, Andrew Pindar, which owns the yacht, said the vessel “may have strayed inadvertently” into Iranian waters due to a problem with its propeller.

State radio quoted a statement by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as saying that “after getting necessary guarantees, Iran released the five. We reached the conclusion that they entered Iran’s territorial waters by mistake.”

The news comes hours after British Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke to his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki by phone and pressed him for clear information on the incident. Miliband denied the sailors had any malicious intent. He said the incident has “nothing to do” with politics or Iran’s nuclear program.