|Smiling British Marines leave Tehran on their way back home. US and British Prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay meet a different fate.|
It doesn’t get much better than this folks. With a smile, handshakes and a lesson in family values, a member of the “axis of evil” and alleged 21st century “Hitler” today destroyed years of hard work and scurrilous propaganda by the American, Israeli and British governments.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said Wednesday that the country had “pardoned” and would release the 15 British sailors and marines who have been held there for nearly two weeks.
Speaking at a news conference in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that the captives would be taken to Tehran airport immediately after he finished his remarks. “They are free after this meeting, and can go back to their families,” he said.
He also criticized Britain for its involvement in the war in Iraq. “We are sorry that British troops remain in Iraq and their sailors and being arrested in Iran,” the president said.
Other countries “must recognize that Iran will protect its right and its land and as it did in the past it will in the future,” Ahmadinejad said. “We are sorry that the British troops remain in Iraq and their sailors are being arrested in Iran. We are sorry of this event.”
Ahmadinejad said that the captured Britons had all confessed to trespassing in Iranian waters and that Iran had “every right” to put them on trial, but had decided not to. “I want to give them as a present to the British people, to see that they are free,” he said.
Afterward, he greeted the captives one by one and shook their hands.
The Iranian president said the decision to release the captured sailors and marines was not part of a swap for Iranian prisoners held by the United States in Iraq.
“We approached the subject on a humanitarian basis,” he said. “It was a unilateral decision on our end.”
He also said the British government sent a letter to the Iranian foreign ministry that “said that this will not happen again.” But he said that the decision to release the naval personnel “was not related to that letter. When we think of Islamic kindness, we are not expecting anything in return.”
Ahmadinejad was shown on live television greeting the British sailors, who were wearing suit jackets. The president said the release was being made on the occasion of the “birthday of the great Prophet of Islam,” in the words of the translator.
Ahmadinejad wished them success.
“Thank you very much,” said one.
“We are very grateful for your forgiveness” said another. “We would like to thank yourself and the Iranian people.”
Another said: “I am fine thank you,” to the president. “Your people have been very kind to us and I appreciate that very much.”
The Iranian President criticized Britain for deploying Leading Seaman Faye Turney, one of the 15 detainees, in the Gulf, pointing out that she is a woman with a child.
“Why is it that the most difficult missions, naval inspections, be given to a mother, who is carrying out a mission thousands of miles away from her child?” he said.
“How can you justify seeing a mother away from her home, her children? Why don’t they respect family values in the West?” he asked of the British government.