Mil News Iran releases sailors

John A Silkstone

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Iran has released the five British sailors who had been detained in the Gulf after their yacht apparently strayed into Iranian waters, state radio said on Wednesday.

their release came hours after David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and called for formal consular access to the men, who have been held since November 25, and their speedy release.

"After getting necessary guarantees, Iran released the five," Iranian state radio said, quoting a statement issued by the Revolutionary Guards.

"We reached the conclusion that they entered Iran's territorial waters by mistake," it said, adding that the men were released several hours ago.

The men were arrested last week by Revolutionary Guards on board their drifting yacht near the island of Sirri where it is thought that they are being held.

The yacht, a Volvo 60 Class vessel, is believed to have left Manama in Bahrain last Tuesday for the 300-mile journey to Dubai to join 23 other boats in the long-established annual coastal race to the capital of neighbouring Oman.

It is thought that a propeller or propulsion failure left the yacht at the mercy of the prevailing wind and currents, leading it inadvertently to drift in areas claimed, or owned, by Iran.

The father of one of the yachtsmen, Oliver Young, had voiced concern that his son could find himself a pawn in a larger game of international politics, complicating his release. David Young told the Plymouth Herald. “It’s just a worry that there are diplomatic stresses at the moment. They are under international pressure. We just hope they’re not used as a bargaining chip.”

The British sailors are Oliver Smith, 31, from Southampton, Sam Usher, 26, from Scarborough, and Luke Porter, 21, from Weston-super-Mare. David Bloomer, the oldest of the group, is in his sixties and is a radio presenter based in Bahrain, from where the yacht sailed before it was stopped.
 

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