TEHRAN, Iran — The Iranian Embassy released a third letter purportedly written by British sailor Faye Turney saying she has been “sacrificed” to the policies of the British and U.S. governments.
The letter, addressed to the British people, also said that Turney had been treated well, unlike the prisoners held at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “I’m writing to you as a British serviceperson who has been sent to Iraq, sacrificed due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair government,” the letter said.
It also said: “It is now time to ask our government to make a change to its oppressive behavior” toward others.
Earlier on Friday, another of the 15 British service members held captive in Iran appeared on the government’s Arabic-language TV and apologized for entering Iranian waters “without permission.”
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government has insisted that its navy personnel were captured in Iraqi waters, immediately denounced the broadcast and said it would only lead to further isolation for Iran. The standoff has added to tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and over allegations that Iran is arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq.
“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,” he said in a brief statement. “And what the Iranians have to realize is that if they continue in this way they will face continued isolation.”
Three sailors seen on TV
In the video Friday, Royal Marine rifleman Nathan Thomas Summers was shown sitting with another male serviceman and Turney against a pink floral curtain. Both men wore camouflage fatigues with a label saying “Royal Navy” on their chests and a small British flag stitched to their left sleeves. Turney wore a blue jumpsuit and a black headscarf.
“Again I deeply apologize for entering your waters,” Summers said in the clip broadcast on Al-Alam television. “We trespassed without permission.”
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who also denounced the broadcast as “appalling,” said a letter from Iran on the detention of the 15 sailors and marines had done nothing to bring the standoff to a close.
The TV showed pictures of the light British naval boats at the time of the sailors’ seizure. The helicopter flying in the background was British, the Al-Alam newscaster said.
Tehran chides U.N. Security Council
Meanwhile, the Iranian Embassy in London criticized the U.N. Security Council for getting involved in the crisis over the captured British sailors.
In an e-mail statement, the embassy said that the Security Council resolution was passed in violation of its own mandate. “This case can and should be settled through bilateral channels,” the statement said. “The British government’s attempt to engage third parties, including the Security Council, with this case is not helpful.”
Earlier this week, it appeared the two countries were moving toward a resolution of the crisis. Mottaki told reporters Wednesday that Turney would be freed shortly.
However, the Iranians were angered by tough talk out of London, including a freeze on most bilateral contacts and a British move to refer the issue to the U.N. Security Council.
On Thursday, the council expressed "grave concern" over Iran’s seizure of the military personnel and called for an early resolution of the escalating dispute.
On Friday, however, the Turkish prime minister’s office said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had indicated his government is willing to reconsider freeing Turney, who is married and has a young daughter.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Ahmadinejad on Thursday evening, said Erdogan’s spokesman, Akif Beki. Ahmadinejad told the prime minister that Iran was “willing to reconsider the issue of the release of the woman crew member,” Beki said.
Iran claims the British sailors and marines, part of a Royal Navy force patrolling the Persian Gulf for smugglers, were operating in its waters when captured last Friday. The incident came several months into the escalating standoff between Iran and the United Nations over Tehran’s nuclear program.
An Iranian news agency reported earlier in the day that Iran’s Foreign Ministry sent a message to the British embassy in Tehran calling for a guarantee by London to avoid violating Iranian territorial waters in the future.
Until now, Iran has said the matter could only be resolved if Britain admitted its sailors were trespassing.
Crude oil prices kept soaring Friday as a jittery market worried that oil exports could be affected by the British-Iranian crisis.
After settling at a six-month high a day earlier, light, sweet crude futures rose another 45 cents to $66.48 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Trading settled Thursday at $66.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange — the highest settlement price since Sept. 8, 2006, when crude finished at $66.25.
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