Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Ten U.S. sailors and two patrol boats detained by Iran on January 12 and accused of trespassing have been released after Tehran determined they did not deliberately enter Iranian waters.
"It was determined that the detained American Marines did not enter Iranian waters intentionally," the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted as telling Iranian state television. "Following their apology, they have been released to international waters in the [Persian] Gulf."
The U.S. military has confirmed that the sailors were back in U.S. custody and that "there are no indications that the sailors were harmed."
“All indications suggest or tell us that our soldiers were well taken care of, provided with blankets and food and assisted with their return to the fleet earlier today,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a speech delivered on January 13.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden denied claims that Washington had apologized over the incident.
"When you have a problem with the boat, [do] you apologize the boat had a problem? No," Biden said in an interview with the U.S. television network CBS. "And there was no looking for any apology. This was just standard nautical practice."
The sailors departed Farsi Island, which lies roughly midway between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, in the morning of January 13 (8:43 a.m. GMT) aboard the two boats, a U.S. statement said. They were picked up by U.S. Navy aircraft and other sailors took control of their boats for the return to Bahrain, where the U.S. 5th Fleet is based.