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British sailors had been spying on Iran

Issue No. 2046

The 15 British sailors and Marines captured by the Iranians were involved in gathering intelligence about Iran.

The officer in charge of the 15 captured sailors admitted on camera they were involved in intelligence work while on patrol. Three weeks before his capture, Royal Marine captain Chris Air told Sky News, “We sort of gather int [intelligence] as well.”

The interview was only broadcast last week after the 15 were released. Prior to that the television channel had agreed to a Ministry of Defence embargo on the story.

The Marine captain was interviewed on board an Iraqi fishing boat the party had boarded.

He explained he was seeking information “about any piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area, because obviously we’re right near the buffer zone with Iran… it’s good to gather int as well on the Iranians”.

Such patrols “tread the waters for days at a time” on the boundary with Iran, he said.

Defence secretary Des Browne admitted they were there to “gather information about the environment in which they were working”.

See also the editorial Losing the argument

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Article information

Tue 10 Apr 2007, 18:35 BST
Issue No. 2046
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