We were blindfolded, bound and stripped. say sailors


Blackleaf
#1
We were blindfolded, bound and stripped, say our sailors
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."

READERS' COMMENTS

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
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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
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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

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 6th, 2007 at 12:12 PM..
 
crit13
#2
This comes as no suprise to anyone with some common sense.

They were manipulated and puppeteered while being held in Tehran.
 
Blackleaf
#3
Freed sailors - the statement in full

6th April 2007

This is the full statement of the freed sailors, read out by their two most senior members, Lieutenant Felix Carman, 26, and Royal Marine Captain Chris Air, 25:

"Yesterday we were reunited with our families after a 14 day ordeal that none of us will forget.

"On arrival at London Heathrow we were given the news that four UK servicemen and a civilian interpreter had been killed in Iraq. We would like to pass on our thoughts and condolences to the families of those who died serving their country.

"We would also like, as a group, to thank the staff of the British Embassy in Tehran and the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence for all their work in securing our release. We understand a great deal of effort has been going on behind the scenes to enable us to be returned to the UK and for that we are very grateful.


Felix Carman: 'We were in Iraqi waters,' he said




"We would also like to thank British Airways and London Heathrow for making our return so comfortable, quick and easy.

"Lastly I would like to thank the very many members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines who have been working so hard over the last 2 weeks supporting our families and friends and for arranging our return to here."

Lt Carman went on: "On Friday 23 March I along with 14 of my colleagues were part of a routine boarding patrol. We deployed from HMS Cornwall in two Rigid Inflatable Boats and patrolled into an area south of the Shatt Al Arab waterway. This was meant to be a routine boarding operation and followed approximately 66 similar such boardings over the previous four weeks.

"We approached an unidentified merchant vessel that our supporting helicopter had identified as worth investigation. We carried out a completely compliant boarding with the full cooperation of the Master and crew. The RM secured the vessel and the RN element of the boarding party then arrived and commenced a thorough search of the ship. This was in complete accordance with our UN mandate and as part of an International Coalition. "We were equipped with Xeres true navigational equipment and hand held GPS for backup.

The helicopter in support provided continuous navigational confirmation and we were also linked to HMS Cornwall who were monitoring our exact position at all times. Let me make it absolutely clear, irrespective of what has been said in the past, when we were detained by the IRG we were inside internationally recognised Iraqi territorial waters and I can clearly state we were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters."





Capt Air continued: "It was during the boarding that we noticed the helicopter had returned to 'Mother', and we started calling the ship on VHF to find out why. A short while later two speed boats were spotted 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. We made a conscious decision to not engage the Iranians and do as they asked. They boarded our boats, removed our weapons and steered the boats towards the Iranian shore."

Lt Carman said: "On arrival at a small naval base, we were blindfolded, stripped of all our kit and led to a room where I declared myself as the officer in charge and was introduced to a local commander.

"Two hours later we were moved to a second location and throughout the night were subjected to random interrogations. The questions were aggressive and the handling rough, but it was no worse than that.

"The following morning we were flown to Tehran and transported to a prison where the atmosphere changed completely. We were blindfolded, our hands were bound and we were forced up against a wall. Throughout our ordeal we faced constant psychological pressure.

"Later we were stripped and then dressed in pyjamas. The next few nights were spent in stone cells, approximately 8ft by 6ft, sleeping on piles of blankets. All of us were kept in isolation.

"We were interrogated most nights, and presented with two options. If we admitted we had strayed, we would be on a plane back to the UK soon. If we didn't we faced up to seven years in prison. We all at one time or another made a conscious decision to make a controlled release of non-operational information.

"We were kept in isolation until the last few nights when we were allowed to gather for a few hours together, in the full glare of Iranian media.

"On day 12 we were taken to a Governmental complex, blindfolded and then given three piece suits to wear. We watched the President's statement live on TV, and it was only then that we realised we were to be sent home.

"It goes without saying that there was a huge moment of elation. We were made to line up to meet the president, one at a time. My advice to everyone was not to mess this up now - we all wanted to get home.

"Afterwards - and still blindfolded - we were taken back to the hotel and for the first time met with UK representatives including the Ambassador before boarding our flight back to Heathrow."

Capt Air added: "In the short time we have been back we have not been able to see all that has been broadcast or written about our ordeal. We are aware that many people have questioned why we allowed ourselves to be taken in the first place and why we allowed ourselves to be shown by the Iranian authorities on television.

"Let me be absolutely clear, from the outset it was very apparent that fighting back was simply not an option. Had we chosen to do so then many of us would not be standing here today. Of that I have no doubts.

"The Iranian Navy did not turn up lightly armed; they came with intent, heavy weapons, and very quickly surrounded us. We were equipped, armed and had rules of engagement for boarding operations within Iraqi water.

"We were not prepared to fight a heavily armed force who it is our impression came out deliberately into Iraqi waters to take us prisoner. Reasoning with the Iranians was our only option. We tried. We did our utmost to de-escalate the situation, but our words fell on deaf ears. They had come with a clear purpose and were never going to leave without us.

"The Iranians are not our enemies. We are not at war with them. Our rules of engagement at that time stated that we could only use lethal force if we felt that we were in imminent danger of a loss of life. By the time the true intent of the Iranians had become apparent - and we could have legitimately fought back - it was too late for action.

"We were completely surrounded, and in addition to the loss of life, any attempted to fight back would caused a major international incident and an escalation of tension within the region. Our team had seconds to make a decision and we believe that we made the right decision. We still believe this was the right thing to do."

Lt Carman went on: "Some have questioned why HMS Cornwall did not provide greater protection for the team. HMS Cornwall is there to guard the vital oil platforms and command the coalition forces.

She is also the platform by where boarding teams can launch from and patrol out. Not only should she not have been closer to us but she physically could not have been, the water is simply too shallow. We are all immensely proud to be members of her crew and look forward to rejoining her.

"I would just like to stress three points at this stage:
  • "When taken by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard we were well inside Iraqi territorial waters.
  • "The detention was clearly illegal and not a pleasant experience.
  • "We as a group held out for as long as we though appropriate. We then complied up to a point with our captors.
"We remain Immensely proud of our team. Their courage and dignity throughout their illegal detention was in line with the best tradition of the service.

"Throughout our ordeal we have tried to remain very much a team. No one individual should be singled out but we are now very aware of the special treatment singled out to Faye Turney. Faye is a young mother and wife. She volunteered to join the Royal Navy and is very proud to continue to serve. She is a highly professional operator and we are incredibly proud to have her as part of our team.

"The fact she is a women has been used as a propaganda tool by Iran. This is deeply regrettable. She is coming to terms with what has happened to her and not only Faye and her family but all of us are finding the press focus very uncomfortable and difficult and specifically request that you give all of us the space and privacy we need when we return to our homes."

READERS' COMMENTS

I totally agree with the strategy taken by the RN. No point in dying for a non cause.

- Jshide, Shreveport, La, USA


dailymail.co.uk
 
earth_as_one
#4
No doubt getting captured by your adversary is unpleasant. I suspect the Iranian diplomats kidnapped by the Americans are finding out.

The soldiers choose wisely not to escalate what looked like a loosing battle into an international incident with unforeseeable consequences.

Quote:

...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....

But this quote intrigues me:

Quote:

...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."

So how were they given blindfolds without seeing their guards? Did they have to put the blindfolds on themselves? How was that managed?

Also its obvious these soldiers were puppets in a carefully choreographed propaganda ploy.

On the bright side, no one was seriously hurt thanks to the good judgement of the commander. Shows how unstable this area is.
Last edited by earth_as_one; Apr 6th, 2007 at 12:59 PM..
 
wallyj
#5
Yes,maybe they did put the blindfolds on themselves. It is possible for most of us with opposable thumbs. I bet that if you study thier statements a little closer you will be able to link Bush to this trouble and maybe even 9/11.