UK sailors 'confess' on TV

In the footage aired on government-run Al-Alam TV the two sailors pointed to a map, apparently identifying where their boat crossed into Iranian waters on March 23, leading to their capture.


The two sailors, who appeared in separate video clips wearing military fatigues, were talking to a camera, but Al-Alam did not air their voices.

Instead, the newscaster said the two "have confessed" to trespassing into Iranian waters "illegally". The newscaster also gave more details about the incident, saying the 15 left their ship in a small boat on the morning of March 23 and entered the Iranian waters at 10 am local time.

The TV broadcast also said the captured sailors have said they are receiving "good and humanitarian treatment".

The British sailors and marines were detained by Iranian naval units on March 23 while patrolling for smugglers as part of a UN-mandated force patrolling the Persian Gulf. Iran insists the sailors trespassed into its waters, but Britain says the team was in Iraqi waters.

Al-Alam broadcast more lengthy video footage on Friday of captured marine Nathan Thomas Summers. It that video, Summers admitted to trespassing in Iranian waters.

"We illegally trespassed on Iran's territorial waters and were arrested by the Iranian border guards and I would like to apologise to the Iranian people for the issue," Summers said.

He was shown sitting with another serviceman and the female British sailor Faye Turney against a floral curtain. Both servicemen wore camouflage fatigues with a Royal Navy label on their chests and a little British flag stitched to their left sleeves.

'Communication open'

The broadcast of the latest footage came as Iran confirmed that it was in direct talks with Britain over the 15 British naval personnel, saying communications were continuing.

"They were never cut and so there was no need to restart them," an Iranian official told news agency AFP, speaking under condition of anonymity.

"And the sign for this is that the two countries' foreign ministries have been exchanging messages. Iran has never wanted to close the diplomatic path, unless the British government creates such conditions."

In an interview from Afghanistan earlier on Sunday, British Defence Secretary

Des Browne said: "We are in direct bilateral communication with the Iranians and they know that not only are we in a very clear position but that we have the support of almost all of the international community."

The Iranian official said contacts between the two sides might have borne fruit more rapidly had it not been for the strongly critical tone of comments made by British government ministers.

"To show its good faith and despite the fact that the sailors were arrested in our territorial waters, Iran said that it was ready to release the only female sailor, but due to the kind of comments being made by the British government the matter was postponed," the official said.

Iran had said that it was ready to release woman sailor Faye Turney but on Thursday the head of Iran's supreme national security council, Ali Larijani, said she would not be freed because of Britain's "incorrect" attitude.

Mr Larijani's comment came after Britain announced it was suspending all contacts with Iran not specifically related to the case of the 15 naval personnel who were detained off Iraq on March 23.


In Tehran, Islamist students threw rocks and firecrackers at Britain's embassy during a demonstration.

Firecrackers exploded inside the embassy compound which was heavily guarded by anti-riot police and scaffolding to keep the protesters, members of the hardline Basij volunteer militia, at bay.

The students chanted "Death to Britain", "Death to America" and called for the sailors, who were captured for alleged illegal entry into Iranian waters on March 23, to be punished.

One demonstrator warned from a podium that the British embassy could face a similar fate to that of the US mission in Tehran — stormed with hostages taken in 1980 — if "Britain keeps on speaking nonsense". Police dispersed the crowd after two hours.

On Saturday, Iran's President Ahmadinejad had again called on Britain to apologise.

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