By Helen Cooper and David E. Sanger. Two United States Navy patrol boats and their crews were seized by the Iranian authorities in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday during what a Tehran news agency alleged was “snooping.”
But the Pentagon and the State Department said that one of the boats had experienced mechanical problems while en route from Kuwait to Bahrain on a routine mission. Administration officials said that the military had lost contact with the boats before they strayed into Iranian territorial waters. They said they had received assurances from Iran that the 10 sailors would be returned soon, perhaps on Wednesday.
But a spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif, was quoted Wednesday morning in the Iranian news media as saying that talk of an immediate release was “speculation.” He said an “investigation” was underway and that “talks” were being held with the sailors, suggesting that they were being interrogated . . .
The semiofficial Fars news agency in Iran said that the boats had illegally traveled more than a mile into Iranian waters near Farsi Island, the site of a major Iranian naval base. It said that members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Navy had confiscated GPS equipment, which would “prove that the American ships were ‘snooping’ around in Iranian waters.”
The waters where the boats were sailing are a frequent location for intelligence collection by the United States, Iran and many gulf countries. The American and Iranian navies encounter each other frequently there. (Read more from “Iran Kidnaps US Sailors” HERE)
Iran Releases U.S. Sailors
By Barbara Starr, Jim Sciutto and Holly Yan. The 10 U.S. sailors detained in Iran have been released, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported Wednesday. . .
Earlier Wednesday, what sounded like the sailors’ imminent release dragged on for hours, with Iranian officials interrogating the sailors about their motives and demanding a U.S. apology.
“The evidence suggests that they unintentionally entered the Iranian waters because of the failure of their navigational system,” IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif said on Press TV. (Read more from “Iran Kidnaps US Sailors, Then Releases Them” HERE)