Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Iranian Regime Probes Brit Sailors' 'Evil Intentions'

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Sky News Online

Iran will take "serious" measures against five British sailors if it is proved they had "evil intentions" when they entered the Islamic state's waters, according to reports. "Judiciary will decide about the five... naturally our measures will be hard and serious if we find out they had evil intentions," Iranian presidential aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie told the semi-official Fars news agency. The sailors' racing yacht, the Kingdom Of Bahrain, was stopped by Iranian naval vessels last Wednesday, as it sailed from Bahrain to Dubai.

The crew members have been named as Bahrain-based radio presenter David Bloomer, Oliver Smith, 31, from Southampton, Oliver Young, 21, from Plymouth, Sam Usher, and Luke Porter, 21. The boat had been due to take part in the 360-mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race, which was due to start last Thursday. A source close to the race told Sky News he was approached to supply a propeller for the Kingdom Of Bahrain while it was still at sea. It appears the yacht lost its propeller, had no power and drifted towards Iranian territory, the source continued.

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there was no suggestion that the crew had aggressive intentions. He said: "This is a human story of five young yachtsmen. It's got nothing to do with politics. It's got nothing to do with (Iran's) nuclear enrichment programme." "It's a consular case, which is being treated as a consular case by the UK, and I'm sure will be treated as a consular case by the Iranian authorities." It is not the first time that Britons have been captured by the Iranian authorities while at sea. Iran took 15 British service personnel hostage on March 23, 2007, and held them for 13 days. The Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines, from the frigate HMS Cornwall, were taken at gunpoint by Iranian warships during a routine search of a cargo ship in the northern Gulf. Iran alleged the frigate had strayed into Iranian territorial waters, but the Ministry of Defence denied the allegation and said the ship was in Iraqi waters.