April 04, 2007
Ahmadinejad "Pardons" 15 UK Sailors
TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he has pardoned the 15 British sailors and marines detained in the Gulf last month.
Ahmadinejad also gave medals of honor to the Iranian coast guards who intercepted the 15 British sailors and marines in the Gulf, saying
Iran will never accept tresspassing of its territorial waters.
"On behalf of the great Iranian people, I want to thank the Iranian Coast Guard who courageously defended and captured those who violated their territorial waters, the president told a press conference.
More to come.
UPDATE:Ahmadinejehad says the pardon is "a gift to the British people":
"On the occasion of the birthday of the great prophet (Muhammad) ... and for the occasion of the passing of Christ, I say the Islamic Republic government and the Iranian people — with all powers and legal right to put the soldiers on trial — forgave those 15," Ahmadinejad said, referring to the Muslim prophet's birthday on March 30 and the Easter season.
The Iranian president said the sailors would be taken to the airport at the conclusion of his press conference; however other Iranian officials said they would be released to the British Embassy in Tehran. The Embassy has been the site of violent protests in the last few days, so we may not be out of the woods yet.
Ahmadinejehad criticized the deployment of British sailor Faye Turney, who is married and has a 3-year-old child:
"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.