Iran Calls Bri­tons’ Al­leged Mis­treat­ment a ‘Lie’

The Washington Post Sunday - - World News - By Karla Adam

LON­DON, April 7 — An Ira­nian of­fi­cial said Satur­day that al­le­ga­tions of mis­treat­ment from a Bri­tish naval team seized last month in the Per­sian Gulf were un­founded and stage­m­an­aged.

“The mis­treat­ment of the sailors is a lie,” said Ali Ak­bar Ja­van­fekr, Iran’s pres­i­den­tial press ad­viser, ac­cord­ing to Agence France-Presse. “By dic­tat­ing cer­tain state­ments made by the freed troops, the Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties are seek­ing to im­prove their sit­u­a­tion and di­min­ish the pres­sure of Bri­tish pub­lic opin­ion.”

The 15 sailors and marines were cap­tured by the Ira­nian Revo­lu­tion­ary Guard in what they in­sist were Iraqi wa­ters. Iran, which con­tends that the crew had crossed into Ira­nian wa­ters, re­leased the group Wed­nes­day in a ges­ture Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad called a gift to the Bri­tish peo­ple.

The crew be­gan two weeks of com­pas­sion­ate leave Satur­day.

In a news con­fer­ence Fri­day, six of the crew mem­bers said they were psy­cho­log­i­cally in­tim­i­dated dur­ing their 13 days of cap­tiv­ity, and de­scribed be­ing blind­folded and lined up fac­ing a wall in a Tehran prison while guards cocked their guns.

A spokesper­son for Bri­tain’s De­fense Min­istry said the Ira­nian “ac­cu­sa­tions of stage man­age­ment speak for them­selves.”

In an in­ter­view with the Fi­nan­cial Times, the Ira­nian am­bas­sador in Lon­don, Ra­soul Mo­va­he­dian, said: “We played our part, and we showed our good­will. Now it is up to the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to pro­ceed in a pos­i­tive way.” Al­though no strings were at­tached to the re­lease, the am­bas­sador said Iran would wel­come “any steps that could defuse ten­sions in the re­gion.”

The United States, Bri­tain and Iran had said there would be no bar­gain­ing in the case. Iraqi of­fi­cials said Satur­day that the re­lease of an Ira­nian diplo­mat on Tues­day — the day be­fore Ah­madine­jad freed the Bri­tish crew — was co­in­ci­den­tal.

Jalal Sharafi, who was seized in Bagh­dad on Feb. 4, told Iran’s of­fi­cial news agency, IRNA, that he had been kid­napped by an Iraqi or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­at­ing un­der CIA su­per­vi­sion and that he was tor­tured. The United States has de­nied in­volve- ment in his ab­duc­tion or re­lease.

Mean­while, the Vat­i­can ac­knowl­edged that Pope Bene­dict XVI had writ­ten to Iran’s Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei hours be­fore the group’s re­lease. The Guardian re­ported that the let­ter asked the supreme leader to do what he could to en­sure the crew’s re­turn home by Easter.

BY ANGIE PEARCE — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air, left, leads a group of 15 sailors and marines re­leased by Iran af­ter their ar­rival at Lon­don’s Heathrow Air­port on Thurs­day.

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