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British Marines released by Iran sell their stories to the media



*** The British regime has broken its own military rules by allowing some of the Marines detained for 14 days by Iran to sell their stories to the mass media. The military used this strategy to "control" the story heard by the public, and it must have been extremely important to do so, because it was a risky and controversial move which sparked widespread criticism and even outrage. Iran says the Marines were captured within Iranian waters. The Marines had conveniently given TV and newspaper interviews before "allegedly" entering Iranian territory, fuelling suspicions that this might be a British propaganda stunt, set-up to provoke or demonstrate Iranian wrath, that backfired. In their pre-recorded interviews the crew said their mission involved gathering "intelligence" on "Iranian activities" -- in other words spying, a crime punishable by a 7 year prison sentence in that country. But the shrewd Iranian president released the Marines early, after receiving a formal written plea from the Pope to free them before the Easter holiday, turning the whole incident into a classic diplomatic PR coup for Iran. ***

Anger over Iran hostages' media deals

Servicewoman sells story for 100,000

The Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy were accused of undermining the reputation of Britain's armed forces last night over the decision to allow the 15 sailors and marines held by Iran to sell their stories to the media.

The navy's move to suspend its usual rules - taken "as a result of exceptional media interest" and with the agreement of the defence secretary, Des Browne - was condemned by opposition politicians, former officers and the families of dead service personnel.

Faye Turney, the only woman in the crew, has agreed a joint deal with the Sun newspaper and ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald for close to 100,000.

But amid the complaints about the decision, fears were voiced that it has devalued the work of other serving forces and handed Iran a propaganda victory.

Critics said it was a politically inspired move, but the MoD argued that the families of the service personnel had already been offered large sums of money to tell their stories and by allowing the former captives to speak it was able to retain some control over the story. The announcement also risked diminishing sympathy for the 15, who had been nervous of the reaction in Britain after they were seen on television in Tehran confessing to entering Iranian waters - a claim they retracted on their return.

Colonel Tim Collins, who commanded the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment in Iraq, said: "This episode has brought disgrace on the British armed forces and it comes from complete ineptitude at the top." He contrasted this case with the capture of 11 members of the Royal Irish Regiment in Sierra Leone. "They were held hostage and there was a real chance that they would be killed before they were eventually rescued by the SAS. There was not so much as a peep out of any of them afterwards, no talk and certainly no mention of money."

Mike Aston, whose 30-year-old son, Corporal Russell Aston, was one of six military policemen killed by a mob in Majar al-Kabir, Iraq, in June 2003, said he was "absolutely amazed" by the MoD's stance. "I think to actually sell [my] story it would besmirch my son's memory."

Ms Turney, whose salary as a leading seaman is recorded as being between 23,535 and 29,576, was interviewed by Sir Trevor McDonald ahead of a screening tonight. She gave a separate interview to the Sun, telling the paper she had been kept on her own in a small cell for five days and had at times feared for her life.

Ms Turney was one of the personnel absent from a joint press conference held by six of the crew on Friday and agreed a deal with the Sun and ITV that day.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, told Sky News's Sunday Live: "If, whenever people have been in a difficult situation, they are going to be allowed to sell their story quickly after that, then I think we are going to lose steadily that dignity and respect for our armed forces."

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, told BBC News 24: "I am very concerned about what those governments that were trying behind the scenes to get our personnel home are going to think. And there is, of course, the very understandable feeling of the families of those who have died in Iraq as to why it should be that those who have survived should - putting it bluntly - profit in this way."

The MoD said: "Service personnel must seek permission from the chain of command before speaking to the media. Queen's regulations for the Royal Navy allow personnel to retain fees paid to them for broadcasting, lecturing or writing for publication under certain circumstances."


SOURCE

The Guardian, "Anger over Iran hostages' media deals", 9 April 2007.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,,2053003,00.html


FURTHER READING

The Insider, "British prisoners released by Iran were spying on 'Iranian activities'", 6 April 2007.
http://www.theinsider.org/news/article.asp?id=2460

"The Insider" mailing list article, 09 April 2007.

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Tags: Iran, Marines, prisoners, released, sold, story, sold, stories, media, propaganda, , conspiracy theories.

 
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