What the RM and RN hostages went through...

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by hansvonhealing, Apr 7, 2007.

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  1. This should shut-up some of the 'Bar-room heroes'...
    The Independent
    Tied up, blindfolded, waiting to die: the truth about the hostages' ordeal
    By Terri Judd
    07 April 2007

    Blindfolded and lined up against a concrete wall with their hands tied behind their backs, the British marines and sailors heard the sound of weapons being cocked.

    One of them dropped to the floor screaming, "They are going to execute us." Another could be heard throwing up. Lt Felix Carman, 26, managed to struggle out of his bindings and rip his blindfold off. He yelled that there was no firing squad, to relax, before the Iranian guards jumped on him.

    Yesterday, the psychological torture endured by the 15 marines and sailors was laid bare as six of them spoke of their ordeal.

    Held in isolation, only able to communicate by whispering through the grates of their cells, provided with fake letters from their families and subjected to interrogations, the lowest point came when they thought they were going to die. They were told they faced seven years in an Iranian jail if they failed to co-operate, a flight home if they confessed.

    The worst of the mind games were reserved for Leading Seaman Faye Turney, 26, the mother of a three-year-old girl.

    Segregated from the moment of capture, she was told the others had all been sent home. She alone remained in captivity.

    "She was a constant worry," explained Lt Carman. "As the days passed, you got to hear voices, but I didn't hear Faye at any time during the first 10 days." The young woman, who was not at the press conference yesterday, was coming to terms with her ordeal, he said, but he was proud of the dignified manner in which she had coped.

    Yesterday, Lt Carman and Royal Marine Capt Chris Air, 25, described their capture at the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and subsequent 13 days of captivity.

    Lt Carman said: "Irrespective of what has been said, when we were detained by the Revolutionary Guard we were inside internationally recognised Iraqi territorial waters and were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters."

    On the question of the lack of air support, Capt Air said: "We noticed that the helicopter had returned to 'Mother' [HMS Cornwall] and we started calling the ship on VHF to find out why. A short while later two speed boats were spotted approaching rapidly about 400 metres away."

    Ordering everyone to make their weapons ready, Capt Air tried to reason with the one English speaker among the Iranians as they blocked their path.

    "Some of the Iranian sailors were becoming deliberately aggressive and unstable. They rammed our boat and trained their heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and weapons on us," he said, adding: "We did our utmost to de-escalate the situation but our words fell on deaf ears. They had come with a clear purpose and were never going to leave without us."

    Operator Maintainer Simon Massey added: "It was an emotional rollercoaster. One minute we were on a routine operation, and the next minute we were heading towards Iran."

    Taken to a naval base up the Shatt al Arab waterway, the team were blindfolded, stripped and interrogated.

    The atmosphere became even more sinister the next day when they were flown to Tehran and subjected to effective mock executions.

    Forced to wear pyjamas, they were isolated in stone cells, 8ft by 6ft, and interrogated most nights.

    "We were told not to talk at all times," explained 20-year-old Operator Maintainer Arthur Batchelor.

    Marine Joe Tindell, 21, said the guards "played various mind games" . Each was told the others were being offered privileges for co-operating. " We would whisper through the grates in the doors. That was a real morale-booster," added Capt Air. They insisted both their " confessions" were carefully worded to admit a mistake, but not say by whom.

    "We were not prepared to lie. It was something we felt strongly about both to defend British honour and not to let [the Iranians] off the hook," he said.

    After 10 days, the 15 were allowed to gather together, offered food and games of chess, but in the full glare of the Iranian media. Leading Seaman Turney reappeared, to all their relief.

    It was not until they were taken, blindfolded, to the government complex and listened to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech that they realised their ordeal was over. "It goes without saying that there was a huge moment of elation. We were made to line up to meet the president. My advice to everyone was not to mess this up now ­ we all wanted to get home," said Lt Carman.

    Yesterday Capt Air's father, Robin, said he had felt angry when he learnt the truth about his son's captivity, having believed from the television images that he was being treated well.

    "At one point my wife heard the word 'torture' on the radio and became hysterical for the first time in all the years I have known her. I don't get angry normally. The only thing that makes me angry is when someone hurts my family."

    Last night the 15 marines and sailors returned to their family homes to begin two weeks of compassionate leave.

    First Sea Lord defends conduct of captives

    * The Royal Navy is facing the prospect of investigating what a former general described as the "bloody shambles" of the capture of 15 Britons.

    Lt-Gen Sir Michael Gray, a former commander of 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, said: "The shambles also relates to how and why these people were picked up in the first place. The Royal Navy appears to have been inept. "

    The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, pictured, said there would be a "complete review" while boarding operations were suspended. But he added: "I would not agree at all that it was not our finest hour. I think our people have reacted extremely well in some very difficult circumstances."

    Questions were asked on the inadequacy of intelligence indicating the team were at risk, why they were not better armed, why the helicopter cover was elsewhere, why the team had been operating so close to Iranian waters, and why were they not given more training in conduct under capture?

    The incident has also raised questions about the ships the Navy is using.

  2. ..and Irans response..
    Tehran accuses MoD of dictating sailors' testimony
    By Angus McDowall in Tehran
    07 April 2007

    Iran hit back in the propaganda war with Britain last night as its state television accused the Ministry of Defence of dictating the comments made by the freed sailors and marines at yesterday's press conference.

    The Iranian media made much of the fact that a sailor and a marine, who were among six of the released hostages at the press conference, read from a prepared statement. Television news showed the footage while a scrolling banner along the bottom of the screen read: "British sailors likely to be forced to make remarks against Iran."

    The bulletin was followed by a brief interview with a "politics expert", who said: "It doesn't change the fact that they admitted trespassing and the British Government admitted responsibility in a note and said that it wouldn't happen in the future." Britain maintains it sent no such note.

    Baztab, an influential hardline news website that has often opposed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called the press conference "an attempt by the British Army and Government to counter their huge propaganda defeat in this crisis." It then mischievously said: "It now appears that the Iranian government's wish that they would not be harmed on their return to the UK has come true. It was expected that because of their confessions the sailors would be maltreated by the British government. But because of this press conference they will probably not be harassed any further by the Army."

    A political analyst in Tehran said the military tone of the press conference would make it less likely to be believed by Iranians than the lower-key footage of the captives filmed by Iran. "Iran still has the upper hand in the propaganda war," he said.

    Full: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2430084.ece
  3. Journalists were denied to ask the soldiers just after the arrival. There were only 6 on the press-conference. The main statement was read from a paper, not sounded in improvised emotional manner (it is a big mistake of MoD's propagandists).
  4. Your right there Sergy, the Iranians are much slicker at PR, the fact they had the hostages looking like they were enjoying being part of a 'reality TV show' was highly effective.

    The MoD’s pathetic attempt only reinforced the widely held view that the ‘Officers’ and crew rolled over. Their statement was contrived and looked as if it had been knocked up in number 10.
  5. Who cares really ? We are not competing with Iranian pirates.
  6. Agreed. Within a couple of years, I'm sure several of the 15 will have written books about their experiences & only then will we start to get an un-spun picture of what really happened.
  7. An interesting level of cynicism in comments so far. I get the impression that contributors feel this is an amateurish piece of window dressing.

    What's been described in this report is a frightening situation, but I find it difficult to equate that with actual 'maltreatment' - at least by Middle Eastern standards. Maybe others disagree?
  8. I wonder how you, or anyone else for that matter, would cope given the same situation. Is it your view that they rolled over? Its easy to be cynical and critisize from the comfort of your armchair.

    And as to the "widely held view that they rolled over". Its certainly not widely held where I am

  9. DS I could not agree more. Armchair heroes who criticise the actions of all involved deserve nothing more than our contempt. Only the 15 will know what they have been through. Rules of engagement aside, once they had been taken, in a blatent act of piracy, the officers duty was to keep the men (and woman) alive. Who cares what they 'confessed' to. I have no idea what CAC training they receive but the fact that all are back safe is an indicator of tactical success from the officers and service personnel concerned.

    In the wider context the incident has been poor for the UK but to hold the 15 responsible is wrong.
  10. I also agree.

    And I don't consider that simply 'rolling over'.
  11. The primary objection is the fact that they fully cooperated with the Iranian media circus, of course they could be forced to reluctantly read ‘confessions’ but doing it like they were auditioning for big brother and every one is really ‘really nice and fantastic’........you would have to torture children in front of me to get me to go that far. And by their own admission they were hardly pressured, perhaps its a generational thing and bliars youths only ambition is to get on TV no matter how.

  12. Oh of course. You have obviously been in a similar situation to know exactly how you would react. As for them being pressured, I would dissagree entirley. I think they would probably have been under enormouse pressure. Your last sentance is crass and, to be honest, very inapropriate.
  13. who cares what they said or how they said it

    every sensible person in the free world knew these

    were kidnnapped by a fanatical clown

    the troops were right to play along and ensure there own safety

    the proof of this is that they are all home safe and sound

    and to repeat every sensible person in the free world

    knew they were kidnapped by a fanatical clown.
  14. If you mean situations where my actual personal survival means doing whatever I have to, to come home alive and in one piece then yes. But that is completely irrelevant other than its the position of last resort for well meaning apologists.

    "very grateful for your forgiveness" Mr Ahmadinejad 'Sir'...and thats a quote.

    (I have cleaned up your spelling because I like you. :wink: )
  15. [quote="bt80]Who cares what they 'confessed' to.[/quote]

    It matters.