A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted.
Referring to them as "insurgents", the site concluded: "If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences."
The warning followed claims by Iranian officials that the British navy personnel had been taken to Tehran, the capital, to explain their "aggressive action" in entering Iranian waters. British officials insist the servicemen were in Iraqi waters when they were held.
The penalty for espionage in Iran is death. However, similar accusations of spying were made when eight British servicemen were detained in the same area in 2004. They were paraded blindfolded on television but did not appear in court and were freed after three nights in detention.
Iranian student groups called yesterday for the 15 detainees to be held until US forces released five Revolutionary Guards captured in Iraq earlier this year.
"We have repeated the line asking for their release. We asked for details of where they are and asked for consular access," the diplomat said.
"The (Iranian Foreign Ministry) promised to look into these requests and dialogue is continuing," the diplomat added.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday that the 15 sailors and marines had been transferred to Tehran. But this has not been independently confirmed.
Jack Straw, leader of Britain's House of Commons and former Foreign Minister, told BBC television that one of those detained was a woman and said British Foreign Ministry officials were "working very hard indeed to try to secure their safe return."
"It requires some very careful and intense diplomacy," Straw said.
Britain in the darh about British soldiers whereabouts. I really do not like this. If they are safe and sound, why they are not letting Britain contact with them? I do not want to be a catastrophist but in this case, and with the motives Iran has now to start a war or similar open conflict -mainly they want to begin it to countermeasure the every-day-growing opposition in Iran-, Britain should ask publicly for a proof of health state of their Marines.
International Community asks Javier Solana to negotiate with Iran (link in Spanish). In his note he:
reiterated the compromise to continue searching for a negotiated solution to the nuclear subject and underlined that "Iran is a country with an enormous potential of whom we are natural associates". (¡!)
The Jawa Report: What their ultimate goal might be is hard to tell so far: are they expecting the British to cave, or are they trying to provoke an attack that they would use to justify their nuclear program?
2. A member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict who, on behalf of that Party and in territory controlled by an adverse Party, gathers or attempts to gather information shall not be considered as engaging in espionage if, while so acting, he is in the uniform of his armed forces.
Michael van der Gälien: "The order to show restraint" - since when should one "show restraint" when foreign forces try to kidnap one's fellow countrymen / soldiers? That's not "showing constraint", that's letting rogue regimes do what they want to.
Austin Bay Blog: Note that a Saudi source says that it has an Iranian source which claims the British sailors and marines were taken with a purpose: as barter for Iraqi operatives captured in Iraq. As events progress, the hostage taking incident looks more and more like a desperate measure.
This incident gives Washington and Baghdad an opportunity to highlight Iranian troublemaking in Iraq. Unfortunately, the White House isn't that media-wise. Perhaps the Iraqi government is.
a senior Iranian military official said Saturday that the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security following a report by the Al-Quds contingent commander, Kassem Suleimani, to the Iranian chief of the armed forces, Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouz Abadi. In the report, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Suleimani warned Abadi that Al Quds and Revolutionary Guards' operations had become transparent to US and British intelligence following the arrest of a senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil.
AllahPundit also links to Iranian blogger Kamangir who says Iran wants an apology, and, if that apology is not offered, they are not going to release the soldiers.
A Tangled Blog -about negotiating with Iran the release of the hostages-:
.."negotiating" implies something being offered in exchange for something else, so are we to accept that our Government is seeking to establish Iranian wants so it can meet some of these in the hope our sailors may be released? Given Mr Hain's preponderence to dally with terrorists maybe he should fly to Tehran and start another "peace process"? Iran is laughing at the West's gutlessness -once more the paper tiger has been exposed by the Mullahs. I'm sure they are encouraged.
Strata Sphere: Spies wear uniforms?
I would not consider it impossible that the British boats actually strayed into Iranian coastal waters, or at least waters claimed by Iran (or, the local Iranians believed they did). In that case, it was a local action without official planning. If the opposite is true, and this is a planned hostage taking with sanction from the top, this could become a bad situation for the sailors and marines, and a delicate conflict to handle for a weakened Tony Blair.
[this incident appears to be also linked to] the prior American capture of a number of Iranian operatives at a site in Irbil that Iran claimed was a consulate (a claim that ought to have been easy for Western journalists to check, but which toward which they displayed complete indifference). My best information suggests that they had petitioned for that location in Kurdish-controlled Iraq to be conferred embassy status, but that it had not yet been accomplished.
As currently interpreted the Geneva Conventions only apply to individuals bent on destroying America. Individuals who blow up elementary schools, kidnap children, attack churches and mosques, kill invalids in wheelchairs, plan attacks on skyscrapers in New York, behead journalists, detonate car bombs with children to camouflage their crime, or board jetliners with explosive shoes -- all while wearing mufti or even women's clothing -- these are all considered "freedom fighters" of the most principled kind. They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention.
Iran is overplaying a weak hand. The mullahs dreams of establishing Iran as a regional hegemon are entirely dependent on maintaining at least the illusion of prestige. I suspect that the Iranian population will play along with the mullahs for so long as they see the possiblility of resurrecting the spectre of ancient Persian glory. Prove the mullahs weak and ineffective and their house of cards comes down around them.
Gateway Pundit: where are they?
Permanent five plus Germany want negotiations
Text of the resolution here.
Related post: Iran seizes 15 British Navy sailors.
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