After U.S. Apology, Iran Releases U.S. Sailors Accused of ‘Trespassing’
The Pentagon and the State Department said that one of the boats had experienced mechanical problems en route to Bahrain from Kuwait on a routine mission on Tuesday, and the Iranians appeared to have accepted that explanation.
The release was announced shortly before 10 a.m. on an Iranian state-run news channel, IRINN. “The detained U.S. Marines, after it was realized that their entry into Iran’s territorial waters was unintentional, and after the Marines apologized, were released into international waters in the Persian Gulf,” the channel reported, attributing the statement to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The United States Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain confirmed the release, saying in a statement that there were “no indications that the sailors were harmed during their brief detention” and that the Navy would “investigate the circumstances that led to the sailors’ presence in Iran.”
The defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, released a statement commending the “timely way in which this situation was resolved” and thanked Secretary of State John Kerry “for his diplomatic engagement with Iran to secure our sailors’ swift return.”
The release of the sailors in less than 24 hours stands in sharp contrast to a similar episode eight years ago that developed into a major international standoff.