Detained US sailors are freed by Iran

The ten sailors had drifted into Iran's territorial waters. Picture: AP
The ten sailors had drifted into Iran's territorial waters. Picture: AP
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All ten US navy sailors detained by Iran after drifting into its territorial waters a day earlier have been freed, the US and Iran said yesterday.

The navy said the American crew members returned safely and there were no indications they had been harmed while in custody.

The nine men and one woman were held at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf after they were detained nearby on Tuesday.

The tiny outpost has been used as a base for Revolutionary Guard speedboats since the 1980s.

The sailors departed the island yesterday aboard the boats they were detained with, the navy said. They were picked up by navy aircraft and other sailors took control of their boats for the return voyage to Bahrain, where the US 5th Fleet is based.

The navy added that it “will investigate the circumstances that led to the sailors’ presence in Iran”.

The Revolutionary Guard’s official website published images of the detained US sailors before their release, showing them sitting on the floor of a room. They look mostly bored or annoyed, though at least one of the sailors appears to be smiling. The sole woman had her hair covered by a brown cloth. The pictures also showed what appeared to be their two boats.

“After determining that their entry into Iran’s territorial waters was not intentional and their apology, the detained American sailors were released in international waters,” a statement posted online by the Guard said yesterday.

Vice president Joe Biden denied the Americans made any apology.