Iran releases detained British sailors

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London, Dec. 2 (ANI): Five British sailors, who were arrested by Iran's naval guards for crossing the country's territorial waters, have been released, a statement issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has said.

"After getting necessary guarantees, Iran released the five. We reached the conclusion that they entered Iran's territorial waters by mistake," Iranian state radio quoted the IRG statement, as saying.

The sailors - Oliver Young and Luke Porter, both 21; Sam Usher, 26; Oliver Smith, 31, and David Bloomer, in his 40s - were being held by the Revolutionary Guards at a secret location.

The five were crewing the racing yacht Kingdom of Bahrain,from Bahrain to Dubai when it was stopped on Wednesday. It is thought to have strayed less than 500 yards inside Iranian waters.

"I have just been told. As soon as he gets returned I am sure he will make that call to me to tell me how he is," The Telegraph quoted Vanessa Bloomer, the wife of David Bloomer, as saying.

Iran had raised fears that the four young British professional sailors and Bloomer, who has Irish and British citizenship and was based in Bahrain, were facing a protracted ordeal.

British Foreign Office spokesman said they were "actively investigating" reports that the sailors were being released.

Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's head of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, had said that the five captive British sailors will face "hard and serious" punishment if they were found guilty of crossing the country's coastal boundary intentionally.

However, a frantic round of calls at diplomatic level on Tuesday evening seems to have worked. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke with his Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and sought assurances over the Brits' safety.

The Iranians seem to have accepted British assurances that the men were simply sportsmen who had strayed off course. (ANI)

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