British marine ‘apologises’ to Iran

Al Jazeera and agencies

Iranian television has broadcast an interview with a captured British marine in which he admitted to entering Iranian waters illegally and apologised to the Iranian people.

The Arabic-language Al-Alam television channel showed an interview with the marine on Friday in which he said: “I deeply apologise for entering your waters.”

Footage of three of the 15 captured British navy personnel was shown by Al-Alam.

“The treatment has been very friendly,” the marine – identified as Nathan Thomas Summers – said on the state-run channel.

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, said people would be disgusted by the broadcast.

“I don’t know why the Iranian regime keeps doing this. All it does it heightens people’s sense of disgust.

“Captured personnel being paraded and manipulated in this way, it doesn’t fool anyone.”

Letter published

Summers was shown sitting with another male serviceman and the female British sailor Faye Turney – who was shown issuing a televised apology herself earlier this week – against a pink floral curtain.

The Iranian embassy in London also released a third letter it said was written by Turney on Friday, in which she said she had been “sacrificed due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair governments”.

The letter said: “It is now time to ask our government to make a change to its oppressive behaviour towards other people.”

The embassy also issued a statement criticising the British move to involve the UN in the diplomatic standoff.

“Attempts to engage the Security Council with this matter of purely bilateral nature are completely unacceptable, unwarranted and unjustifiable,” the statement said.

Official visit

Ali Reza Ronaghi, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tehran, says that the broadcast was part of Iran’s attempt to prove that the British personnel were in Iranian waters.

“However,” Ronaghi said, “I’m not sure if the credibility of these pictures will be trusted by a global audience”.

Fifteen British sailors and marines were captured by the Iranian navy on March 23 while patrolling near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

Britain has demanded their release, insisting that they were in Iraqi waters at the time they were intercepted.

Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, said that British officials would be able to visit the military personnel “in a consular framework.”

So far Iran has denied Britain access to the 15.


The interview was broadcast as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, demanded an apology by the British government, the Fars news agency said.

The Iranian leader made the statement in a telephone conversation with Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, Fars said.

The statement came as Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, said a diplomatic note from Tehran did not contain a way out of the standoff.

“We have been looking for a way out of it for them, for us and particularly for our service personnel from the very beginning.

“I wish I saw any sign that this is what Iran is trying to do.”

The note is the first written communication from Tehran to Britain over the issue.

It appeared to resemble a statement used to resolve a similar standoff in 2004 when Iran seized eight British servicemen and held them for three days.

The note protests against what it describes as an “illegal act” by British personnel and urges the UK government to accept responsibility for it.

European Union foreign ministers said on Friday that they were considering backing London with practical measures to put pressure on Iran to free the 15.