Iran’s president has wished the British naval crew seized in the Gulf “good luck” at a special liberation ceremony, signalling the end of their nearly two-week-long detention in his country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked one of the group: “How are you?” and joked about his compulsory trip to Iran. Another one of the captives expressed gratitude to the Iranian leader, on behalf of the whole British team, for his forgiveness.
The 15 sailors and marines were being handed to the British Embassy. They are due to leave Iran tomorrow, marking the end of a tense diplomatic stand-off between the two countries. Before announcing their release “as a gift” to the British people on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, the Iranian president commended the naval commanders who captured the crew.
He said he was “saddened” by Britain’s violation of Iran’s borders but was willing to forgive the sailors, even though Britain was not “brave enough” to admit it had made a mistake. And he asked for the Britons not to be punished by Tony Blair for accepting and telling the truth – in reference for what Tehran said were confessions by the captives that they had entered Iranian waters. London has always maintained the group were in Iraqi waters when they were seized.