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Iran Promises to Release Female British Sailor


From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.



I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up, how the world's biggest financial company got into the mess that's making it cut 15,000 jobs.

BRAND: But first, Iranian TV today showed a video of the 15 British sailors and marines who were captured last week. And earlier today, the British Royal Navy released evidence that it says shows they were in Iraqi waters when they were taken last Friday.

NPR's Rob Gifford joins us now from London. And Rob, tell us about this video. What's in it?

ROB GIFFORD: Yes, it's just been released. It's fairly short. And it shows the 15 sailors and marines who are being held in Tehran sitting around eating a meal together with not much sound going on there.

But then it cuts to one of the 15 who is the one female sailor among them, Faye Turney. And it actually has her speaking rather gently but very - in a very purposeful manner. And this is what she says.


Leading Seaman FAYE TURNEY (Royal Navy): My name's Leading Seaman Faye Turney. I come from England. I was arrested on Friday the 23rd of March. And obviously we trespassed into their waters. They were very friendly, very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we'd been arrested.

There was no aggression, no hurt, no harm. They were very, very compassionate.

GIFFORD: Now, this - this was Faye Turney, the female sailor among the 15. She was wearing a hijab over her hair. She was smoking a cigarette.

And it has not taken long for the British foreign office to come back and respond to the showing of these pictures. It said it's completely unacceptable for Iran to parade these prisoners, these people being detained by the Iranian government in this way.

BRAND: And Rob, wasn't there talk earlier about her being released?

GIFFORD: There was. The foreign minister of Iran, who's in Saudi Arabia at the moment, said on the fringes of an Arab summit being held there that she would be released either today or tomorrow.

So there was a lot of expectation here in London and down in Plymouth in southwest England where she is from that she could indeed be released. And then now we've just had this video released.

Obviously, that doesn't necessarily negate the fact, the possibility that she could still be released later today or tomorrow. But certainly everything now is focused on this video because this is the first site that we have had of these 15 sailors and marines since they were taken last Friday.

BRAND: Right. And meanwhile, the Royal Navy says it has incontrovertible evidence that these sailors and - were actually in Iraqi waters.

GIFFORD: That's right. Earlier today, the deputy chief of staff of the British Navy, Rear-Admiral Charles Style, held a news conference. Basically, he was saying exactly what has been said all along. But he was backing it up with satellite coordinates, saying exactly and showing on a map where this boat was.

So the British line is still the same. They were in Iraqi waters.

BRAND: Well, you know, Prime Minister Blair today is saying it's time to rachet up the international pressure. What does that mean, exactly?

GIFFORD: One way, of course, is through some kind of sanctions. They have been suggestions that in addition to the sanctions that were passed last Saturday by the UN Security Council in relation to Iran's nuclear program, some kind of trade sanctions could be implemented. But those are always extremely, extremely difficult to do. Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary of Great Britain, said that in the meantime, all bilateral relations have been frozen. And I think what they're focusing on now is this slight softening in the Iranian rhetoric today, and the hope that basically, this can be sorted out through diplomatic channels.

BRAND: And we'll be following it in days to come. Thank you very much. NPR's Rob Gifford, in London.

GIFFORD: Thank you, Madeleine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.