Iran uses hostage to demand Iraq withdrawal.

Daily Express: The World’s Greatest Newspaper :: News / Showbiz :: Iran ‘uses’ British hostage to demand Iraq withdrawal

Iran raised the stakes in the row over the seizure of 15 British sailors tonight as it released a second letter said to have been written by captured Faye Turney.

In the the hand-written note, Leading Seaman Turney, 25, is said to have called for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett reacted furiously, claiming it was “outrageous” that Iran was using the captured sailors to issue “propaganda”.

It followed an earlier outburst by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who insisted the kidnap was “not acceptable” and said Britain would refuse to enter “tit for tat” negotiations with the Islamic regime.

At 10.40pm, the United Nations finally issued a statement expressing “grave concern” over the detention of the sailors and called on Tehran to allow the UK consular access to the personnel.
The second letter, dated March 27, was addressed to “representatives of the House of Commons” and states: “It time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future.”

Angry protestors in Tehran call for the British sailors to be executed

It follows the release on Wednesday of another letter said to have been written by mother-of-one Turney to her family together with footage of an interview in which she admits the British party had “trespassed” into Iranian waters.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did give some ground, conceding he would “consider” a formal request from the government of Turkey to release the female sailor.

 

Meanwhile, Iranian television has screened new footage of what it said was the operation last Friday in which the British boarding party was captured after completing a search of a cargo vessel in the northern Gulf.

The Iranian military gave their own briefing in which they said that incident took place in their territorial waters.

But the British Government remained adamant that the crew were in Iraqi waters, where they were operating with the authority of a Security Council resolution.

At the UN in New York, British diplomats were working to win support for a Security Council statement deploring the Iranian action and calling for the release of the eight sailors and seven marines.

However there were reports that some states, including the Russians, were unwilling to back a text which said that they were operating in Iraqi waters, as the British wanted.Earlier Iran threatened to detain and even prosecute female sailor Faye Turney and her colleagues in the wake of “wrong behaviour” from Britain.

Speaking on Iranian state radio, Ali Larijani said Leading Seaman Turney may not be released imminently, as had earlier been suggested, and accused the British Government of “miscalculating” the issue.

He said: “We said that the grounds were ready for the release of a woman among the British sailors. But if we are faced with a fuss and wrong behaviour then this would be suspended and it would not take place,”

If Britain follows through with its policies on the 15 Devonport-based sailors and marines detained by Iran on Friday, Mr Larijani said “this case may face a legal path” – a reference to Iran’s prosecuting the sailors in court.

The statement has come after Britain asked the UN Security Council to support a call for the immediate release of the detainees, saying in a statement they were operating in Iraqi waters under a mandate from the Security Council and at the request of Iraq.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has strongly condemned the screening on Iranian television of footage of the captured British service personnel.

There was outrage in Whitehall after the Iranians showed footage of Leading Seaman Turney, the only woman in the party, admitting that the Royal Navy boarding party had strayed into Iranian waters.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Nobody should be put in that position. It is an impossible position to be put in.

“It is wrong. It is wrong in terms of the usual conventions that cover this. It is wrong in terms of basic humanity.”

The spokesman said that Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett briefed a meeting of the Cabinet on the Government’s efforts to secure the release of the 15 sailors and marines.

The spokesman added: “We are not seeking to put Iran in a corner. We are simply saying, ’Please release the personnel who should not have been seized in the first place.”

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