CHIVENOR, England, (Reuters) – The 15 British sailors and marines seized by Iran in the Gulf said they were blindfolded, bound, kept in isolation and warned they faced up to seven years in jail. “We were blindfolded at all times and kept in isolation from each other,” Lieutenant Felix Carman said.
In an agreed statement, the military personnel said they were told that if they did not admit they had strayed into Iranian waters, they faced seven years in prison. “We were interrogated most nights and given two options. If we admitted that we had strayed, we would be back on a plane to the UK pretty soon. If we didn’t, we faced up to seven years in prison,” they revealed. They heard weapons being cocked behind them and feared the worst.
After their arrest in the Gulf, the sailors and marines were taken to a prison in Tehran. “We were blindfolded, our hands were bound, we were forced up against a wall,” they said in their statement.
They insisted they had been arrested in Iraqi waters and said that in captivity they suffered “constant psychological pressure.”
The sole woman among the group, Faye Turney, was kept isolated for several days and told by her captors that the others had been released and gone home.
The sailors and marines were released in Tehran on Thursday after a tense 13-day stand off and flown back to Britain for an emotional reunion with their families.
Britain has suspended boarding operations in the Gulf and is reviewing rules of engagement in the area’s waters after their seizure, navy chief Jonathan Band said. He said British forces were reviewing how they are handled in future amid disquiet over how easily the sailors were seized on March 23. “As part of this ongoing review, the operational procedures and the rules of engagement that go with them will be reconsidered,” he told BBC Radio.
Iran still holds the only two boats used to carry out the search operations in the area.
Iran said they had strayed into its territory but Britain said they were in Iraqi waters on a regular U.N. mission.