6th April 2007
* We were blindfolded and subjected to interrogation
* We were told we faced seven years in prison if we did not 'confess'
* Iranians entered Iraqi waters deliberately to detain us. Fighting back was not an option
* We were 1.7 nautical miles away from Iranian waters
* We were under psychological pressure and mind games
* Faye Turney was isolated in a cell away from the rest of the crew
The British sailors released by Iran have today told how they were kidnapped and blindfolded and subjected to 'constant psychological pressure'.
The sailors and marines were told if they did not admit they had strayed into Iranian waters they faced seven years in prison.
Left to right: Joe Tindall, Arthur Batchelor, Chris Air, Felix Carman, Adam Sperry and Simon Massey at RMB Chivenor
Two of the freed captives shared the reading of a prepared statement at Royal Marines Base at Chivenor, north Devon, where they revealed the first details of their time as hostages.
Lieutenant Felix Carman confirmed the sailors were in Iraqi waters when they were detained by Iran.
"We were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters," he said.
The sailors and marines said they were bound, blindfolded and lined up against a wall while weapons were cocked, making them "fear the worst".
Apparently responding to criticisms that the sailors and marines surrendered too easily to the Iranians and were too eager to cooperate with their captors, they said that "fighting back was simply not an option".
"We were aware that many people have questioned why we allowed ourselves to be taken in the first place. From the outset it was very apparent that fighting back was not an option. Had we done that many of us would not be standing here today.
"There would have been a major fight, which we could not have won, and the consequences would have had a major strategic impact. We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians."
Captain Chris Air told the press conference of the moment the 15 sailors were kidnapped
The 15 personnel captured by Iran were blindfolded, bound and subjected to "constant psychological pressure", they said today at a press conference.
They were told if they did not admit they had strayed into Iranian waters they faced seven years in prison. They said they were bound, blindfolded and lined up against a wall while weapons were cocked making them "fear the worst".
When asked about Faye Turney, who was not at the press conference, the sailors said: "Being an Islamic country Faye was subjected to different rules than we were. She was separated from us as soon as we arrived and isolated. She was told shortly afterwards that we had all been returned home and was under the impression for four days that she was the only one there. Clearly she was subjected to a lot of stress. She coped admirably and maintained a lot of dignity."
The sailors criticised the propoganda used by Iran. Joe Tindell said: "Obviously we're not pleased about it. As far as I'm concerned the whole thing was a complete media stunt."
Lieutenant Carman added that they were kept in solitary confinement for a period before being allowed out in the evenings for a couple of hours to play chess and socialise. "But that was in the full glare of the Iranian media. It was very much a setup, very much a stunt for Iranian propaganda."
The youngest sailor among the 15, Arthur Batchelor, 20, admitted there were points when he was afraid for his life but "like I said I believed this day would come."
The 15 began their statement by sending their condolences to the families of the four British service personnel and civilian interpreter killed in Iraq yesterday.
They also thanked the staff of the British Embassy in Tehran and the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence for all their work in securing their release.
Lieutenant Felix Carman, 26, of Swansea, south Wales, told how they were taken by the Iranians, on Friday March 23.
He stressed the sailors and marines were on a routine operation when they boarded a merchant vessel in an area south of the Shatt Al Arab waterway.
"I can clearly state we were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters."
Royal Marine Captain Chris Air, 25, from Altrincham, Cheshire, said they saw two speedboats approaching rapidly about 400 metres away.
"I ordered everyone to make their weapons ready and ordered the boarding party to return to the boats.
"By the time all were back on board, two Iranian boats had come alongside.
"One officer spoke good English and I explained that we were conducting a routine operation, as allowed under a UN mandate.
"But when we tried to leave, they prevented us by blocking us in.
"By now it was becoming increasingly clear that they had arrived with a planned intent.
"Some of the Iranian sailors were becoming deliberately aggressive and unstable. They rammed our boat and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs and weapons on us.
"Another six boats were closing in on us. We realised that our efforts to reason with these people were not making any headway. Nor were we able to calm some of the individuals down. It was at this point that we realised that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won, with consequences that would have had major strategic impact."
Marine Joe Tindall revealed how the treatment of the sailors deteriorated within hours of their capture.
He said: "I can't say i was treated well - for the first 24 hours, yes, but between then and the president's speech, I wouldn't say we were treated well."
When asked whether the captives were able to communicate with Iranian guards, he said: "We never saw them for the first six days because whenever they opened the doors we were handed blindfolds."
As for the confessions, he said in his opinion they were not confessions. "It was more like, according to this GPS map we've been given, then apparently we were in Iranian waters - and if that was the case we apologise."
They used no code words during their "confessions".
He revealed that often the hostages would hear the cocking of guns at their heads. "That was the one time in my life I've been scared s*******, basically."
His relieved father, John, was asked what his son's first words to his family were.
"I think I'm having more trouble coming to terms with some it than he is ... within about eight minutes of talking to him I was a jibbering wreck after being relatively normal for two weeks.
"I'm just glad that the truth is coming out."
He added: "The president of Iran is a very small man and a very dangerous man. I'm glad my son's home. "Joe was saying he hasn't got very nice feelings towards the (Iranian) Government. I'll say the same thing but I've got stronger feelings. "I think the British Government have done the best they could in the cirumstances."
Royal Marine Joe Tindell later described the moment he thought one of his colleagues had been executed by having their throat cut by Iranian forces.
The 21-year-old serviceman said that on the second day of their captivity the "mood changed" and they were taken to a detention centre.
Marine Tindell, from Shooters Hill, south east London told BBC News 24: "On day two the mood completely changed, they changed from the military dress to all black, their faces covered.
"We thought we were going to the British embassy but we got taken to a detention centre, all 15 of us.
"We had a blindfold and plastic cuffs, hands behind our backs, heads against the wall. Basically there were weapons cocking. Someone, I'm not sure who, someone said, I quote 'lads, lads I think we're going to get executed'.
"After that comment someone was sick and as far as I was concerned he had just had his throat cut.
"From there we were rushed to a room, quick photo and then stuffed into a cell and didn't see or speak to anyone for six days."
They did best under the circumstances.
Best wishes to them and their families.
Government needs to be extra vigilant and have contingency plans incase this sort of thing happens again. Trust no future however certain.
- M Raja, Manchester, UK
I'm very relieved that this has all come to a favorable outcome for the soldiers. I also admire them for coming through this ordeal like they have considering the treatment that they received. Knowing first hand the great British resolve in matters such as this, I never once doubted the circumstances which led up to their capture and subsequent 'confessions'. Being a military man myself, I am proud to call these 15...brothers in arms.
- Paul R., USA
The full story starts to emerge. I hope those sneering armchair commanders who were so quick to condemn these young sailors now feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
- Tricia, East Sussex, UK