Iran releases British sailors



Iran has released five British sailors detained in the Gulf after their yacht reportedly strayed into Iranian waters.


The official IRNA news agency said on Wednesday that the yachtsmen were released after an interrogation by Iranian authorities found "that their illegal entry was a mistake".
In London, the foreign ministry said: "The Iranian ministry of foreign affairs have confirmed that the five yachtsmen have been released.
"We understand that they are being towed to international waters and will be met by a representative from the sailing company."
Iran had warned on Tuesday the sailors would be prosecuted if it was proven they had "bad intentions".
However, Britain said it was an innocent case of a vessel accidentally going astray into the Gulf.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards, whose naval forces patrol Gulf waters, said the men had been interrogated and "after investigation, it became evident that their illegal entry was a mistake."
"So they were freed after taking the needed written commitments."
Noaman al-Hassan, general secretary of the Bahrain Maritime Sailing Association in Manama, the Bahraini capital, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday that the boat would be towed to the Dubai International Marine Club.

Damaged propeller

The detentions, announced by Britain on Monday, came after The Kingdom of Bahrain yacht veered into Iranian waters while travelling from Bahrain to Dubai.
Britain had earlier called in Iran's ambassador to London on Tuesday to voice "increasing concern" over the detention of the five yachtsmen, as the sailors' boss said a mechanical problem had likely led to their being taken into custody.
Andrew Pindar, chairman of the Sail Bahrain team which owns the sailors' yacht, said it may have drifted into Iranian waters due to a damaged propeller.
"We received a call from the crew stating that they had been stopped by an Iranian navy vessel," he said in a statement.
"We understood that the crew believed they were in UAE waters, but due to a fault with the propeller, they may have inadvertently drifted into Iranian waters."
They were believed to have been intercepted near the Iranian-controlled island of Abu Musa, whose ownership is disputed by Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
The crew have been named as Oliver Smith, Oliver Young, Sam Usher, Luke Porter and David Bloomer, according to informed sources in London.

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