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British prisoners released by Iran were spying on 'Iranian activities'



The Marines released by Iran yesterday were caught on the record, in interviews recorded before they were captured, saying that that their mission involved gathering intelligence about "any sort of Iranian activity" because "It's good to gather intelligence on the Iranians."

The story of the captured sailors has been major headline news around the world every day for two weeks, but news coverage in the west has conspiciously neglected to mention the reason why Iran is so cautious about foreign Navy operations in this part of the ocean. On 3 July 1988 the US Navy shot down an civilian airliner over Iranian waters, killing hundreds of people, all civillians, mostly Iranian families setting-off on their annual holiday. Can you imagine the reaction and the outrage if Iran blew up an American, British or Israeli passenger plane? But when the allies commit war crimes, their politicians and news media are quick to forget.

The British regime put the Marines back into uniform as soon as their flight home landed, and transported them by helicopter to a military base for "debriefing" and supposedly also to receive attention from "health" and "psychological" experts.

But in reality even the most "seriously wounded" and traumatized British troops receive no special medical or physcological care, and they get sent to normal NHS hospitals, not military bases. In fact, the British regime has closed all military hospitals to save money, and handed over the care of British military personnel to the National Health Service. The NHS is the free medical service provided by the government for the poor, who cannot afford private medical care. It is under-funded and suffers from multiple serious problems, and these problems have been widely reported by patients, including British soldiers, and their families.

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In His Own Words

Captain Chris Air of the Royal Marines revealed to Sky News that he and his colleagues had been gathering intelligence on the Iranians.

Here follows the full transcript of that interview.

Captain Air: "This is what's called an IPAT - an Interaction patrol whereby we come alongside or even board the fishing Dhows and basically interact with the crew.

"It's partly a hearts-and-minds type patrol, whereby we'll come along and speak to the crew, find out if they have any problems and just sort of introduce ourselves, let them know we're here to protect them, protect their fishing and stop any terrorism and piracy in the area.

"Secondly it's to gather int (Intelligence). If they do have any information because they're here for days at a time, they can share it with us whether it's about piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area because obviously we're right by the buffer zone with Iran

Jonathan Samuels "This Dhow had been robbed by some Iranian soldiers about 3 days ago, they had some money taken off them and apparently it's happened quite a lot of times in the past so it's good to gather int on the Iranians."

Sky Correspondent Jonathan Samuels: Is the captain happy to talk to you?

"Yes he is yeah. They're generally very compliant and friendly. We have a translator onboard who's a great help - sort of helps to break the ice - and we're obviously learning Arabic as well.

"It's good to help them just get relaxed and it's a very friendly and de-escalatory approach we adopt."

JS - Any dangers?
"At the moment we haven't encountered anyone who's been anything other than compliant (interrupted).

"We are capable of doing non-compliant boardings as well, however I think they'd be a bit stupid to start being aggresive with us because obviously we've got seven armed Marines and generally that's not a problem with us coming aboard because they understand we're here to help them at the end of the day."

JS - Any real risks?

"There can be yes, and we're not complacent about what we do so we make sure that we do take all the necessary security measure before we go jumping on a Dhow. We'll assess the situation and make sure it's secure before we come aboard."


SOURCE

Sky News, "In His Own Words", 5 April 2005.
http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1259451,00.html


FURTHER READING

BBC News, "Navy chief defends captured crew", 6 April 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6532361.stm
    The Royal Navy's head has defended the actions of 15 British personnel seized by Iran and UK operations in the Gulf.
    ...
    The admiral said the Iranians were not considered to be "the enemy", and there was no question of them having been spied on.
    Some of the 15 personnel will speak at a press conference later.
    ...
    It emerged on Thursday that in a television interview recorded before their capture, Capt Chris Air, had said one purpose of patrols in the area was to gather intelligence on "any sort of Iranian activity".
    In the Five News and Sky News interview, recorded on 13 March but not broadcast until after the 15 had been released, he acknowledged he was operating close to the buffer zone between Iranian and Iraqi waters, adding: "It's good to gather intelligence on the Iranians."
    ...


BBC News, "1988: US warship shoots down Iranian airliner", 3 July 2003.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/3/newsid_4678000/4678707.stm
    An American naval warship patrolling in the Persian Gulf has shot down an Iranian passenger jet after apparently mistaking it for an F-14 fighter.
    All those on board the airliner - almost 300 people - are believed dead.
    The plane, an Airbus A300, was making a routine flight from Bandar Abbas, in Iran, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
    ...
    The plane blew up six miles from the Vincennes, the wreckage falling in Iranian territorial waters.
    Iranian ships and helicopters have been searching for survivors but none have so far been found. Iranian television broadcast scenes of bodies floating amid scattered debris.
    ...
    The president promised a full investigation into how a passenger jet came to be mistaken for a fighter jet, which is two-thirds smaller.
    ...


BBC News, "What next for the former captives?", 5 April 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6530219.stm
    ...
    The 15 will not be rushed into leaving the military base at Chivenor in North Devon, where they were flown in two naval Sea King helicopters on their return to UK soil. [In other words, they are not going home, they are staying at the military base, where media and public access can be fully controlled.]
    ...
    Most importantly for the former captives it will give them a chance to readjust to being back home, away from prying eyes.
    ...


BBC News, "Navy crew reunited with families", 5 April 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6529193.stm
    ...
    At Heathrow Airport, the group briefly lined up in front of media before boarding helicopters.
    They were then flown to Royal Marines Barracks Chivenor, in Devon, where they are being reunited with their families.
    In emotional scenes, the sailors and marines dressed in military uniform, embraced relatives, friends and colleagues.
    A de-briefing will take place later and they will undergo health checks.
    BBC correspondents say military chiefs will be keen to assess the physical and psychological impact captivity has had on the crew.
    ...


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Daily Mail, "Anger as Britain's last military hospital closes", 30 March 2007.
http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=445617&in_page_id=1770
    Scores of well-wishers today lined the streets as more than 200 servicemen and women took part in a procession to say farewell to the country's last dedicated military hospital.
    The march took place to commemorate the handing over of the Royal Hospital Haslar, in Gosport, Hants, to the NHS after 254 years of military service.
    ...
    The closure of the Royal Hospital Haslar leaves the UK as the only remaining western power not to have a dedicated military hospital.
    It will also mean that military personnel, including those suffering from psychological illnesses, are treated in wards alongside civilians.
    ...


BBC News, "Military hospital marks closure", 30 March 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/6509337.stm
    Personnel from the Royal Navy, RAF and Army are to march out of Royal Haslar Hospital for the last time.
    A flag-lowering ceremony will be held at the Gosport, Hampshire, centre which will be handed over to the NHS after 250 years as a military hospital.
    The country's last military-run hospital is to shut completely in 2009.
    ...


The Observer, "Scandal of treatment for wounded Iraq veterans", 11 March 2007.
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2031200,00.html
    и Soldiers 'denied proper hospital care'
    и Letters reveal anguish of families
    A shocking picture of neglect and the appalling treatment of wounded British troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan emerged last night in a remarkable series of letters from soldiers' families obtained by The Observer.
    The sheaf of complaints, passed on by deeply alarmed senior military sources, claims that soldiers have been deprived of adequate pain relief and emotional support, and in some cases are unable to sleep because of night time noise in the NHS facilities caring for them.
    ...
    Months after the row over mixed military-civilian wards, the new revelations open potentially more serious allegations concerning the level of treatment being provided to seriously injured troops. The revelations also follow the recent scandal surrounding conditions at the Americans' flagship domestic military hospital, the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington, which prompted President George Bush to order a review of the nation's military hospitals.
    ...


Daily Telegraph, "Military 'betrayed wounded soldiers'", 12 March 2007.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/11/nsoldiers111.xml
    ...
    His statement came after leaked complaints from soldiers and their families graphically described the dire state they were left in after being injured while serving their country.
    Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said their treatment represented a "betrayal" while Lord Guthrie, the former defence staff chief, told one Sunday newspaper: "The handling of the medical casualties from both Afghanistan and Iraq is a scandal."
    ...
    The complaints came on the same day that Ministry of Defence figures revealed more than 2,100 troops have suffered psychiatric problems after returning from Iraq since 2003. But many of them are waiting up to 18 months for NHS treatment, a delay branded "scandalous" by Combat Stress, the services mental health charity.
    ...


BBC News, "Overcrowding 'raises MRSA risk'", 12 March 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6440927.stm
    Overcrowding in [NHS] hospital wards is raising the risk of superbug infections such as MRSA, it is claimed.
    Liberal Democrat figures show 52% of trusts [local NHS trusts] in England have bed occupancy rates higher than the recommended maximum safety level of 85%.
    Among those, 95 trusts - more than one in five of the total - have occupancy rates in excess of 90%.
    Experts say a rate above 85% raises the infection risk, but the Department of Health said the risk was low.
    Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that deaths in England and Wales involving MRSA rose by 39% to 1,629 from 2004 to 2005.
    In the same period deaths involving another bug, Clostridium difficile rose by 69% to 3,800.
    A report drawn up last year by the Department of Health's chief economist found the most crowded hospitals - with bed occupancy rates over 90% - had MRSA rates 42% higher than average.
    ...

"The Insider" mailing list article, 06 April 2007.

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