Iran arrests five British yachtsmen

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrpdCqvkzHM]Five British sailors have been detained by Iranian authorities after their racing yacht was stopped by the Iranian navy while sailing from Bahrain to Dubai. The racing yacht named the Kingdom Of Bahrain is owned by Sail Bahrain, was crewed by nine men including the five Britons. The yacht was apprehended last Wednesday after it set sail from Bahrain to Dubai. The boat is believed to have strayed off international waters, when it broke its propeller.

The detention of the men was made public yesterday by Britain’s Foreign Office, though the officials said that they had contacted the Iranian authorities on November 25. The sailors have been identified as – Oliver Smith, Oliver Young, Sam Usher, Luke Porter and radio DJ David Bloomer. They were heading to Dubai to join the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race.

The current detention is expected to fuel tension between Iran and the West. Iran and Britain have not been at good terms given the Iranian accusations in past weeks on Britain of specifically trying to derail their elections. Britain has been vocal about its stand against the proposed work on 10-nuclear reactors being planned by Tehran.

This is not the first incident in recent times when Britons have been captured by the Iranian authorities while at sea. Iran took 15 British service personnel including the Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines, from the frigate HMS Cornwall, hostage on March 23, 2007 and held them for 13 days. The service personnel were taken hostage at gunpoint and accused of straying into their waters.

Update 1:

Iran seems to have a tough stance on the current issue:

Iran will take serious measures against five British yachtsmen detained in the Gulf if it proves they had “evil intentions,” a close aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.

Source: reuters.com

Oil prices rose by over $1 on fears of a diplomatic crisis shortly after news of the detainment was made public on Monday.

The judiciary will decide about the five…naturally our measures will be hard and serious if we find out they had evil intentions,” Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie, the president’s chief of staff, told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Source: reuters.com

Update 2:

Iran has finally decided to release the five sailors. The British Foreign Office confirmed the release of the men, who went off the international waters on Novemeber 25, while traveling from Bahrain to Dubai.

After carrying out an investigation and interrogation of the five British sailors, it became clear that their illegal entry was a mistake,” the Revolutionary Guard said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency. “After obtaining necessary guarantees, it was decided to release them.

Source: AFP/Google

The men would be released in the international waters in presence of the team’s officials.

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