Britain Allows Navy Personnel Held in Iran to Sell Their Stories
Monday, April 9, 2007
LONDON, April 8 -- The 15 British marines and sailors who were held captive in Iran for nearly two weeks have been granted special permission to sell their stories, the Defense Ministry said Sunday.
The move to lift a ban that prevents military personnel from selling stories was made because of the "exceptional circumstances" surrounding the crew's capture in the Persian Gulf on March 23, the ministry said in a statement.
The dramatic saga has dominated the British media, which frequently pay large sums of money for high-profile interviews.
"It is a fact that the media have been making direct contact with the families and offering them significant sums of money," the ministry said. "It was clear that the stories they had to tell were likely to have emerged via family and friends regardless of any decision the Navy took."
"I'm glad they are safe, but people profiting from their experience is wrong," Pauline Hickey, whose 30-year-old son was killed by a bomb in southern Iraq, said in an interview. "They should be thankful they came home with their lives. I think what they are doing is in bad taste."
Liam Fox, the opposition Conservative Party's spokesman on defense, also criticized the move, saying that "what distinguishes our armed forces is their professionalism and dignity."
"Many of the public who shared the anxiety of the captivity of the sailors and marines will find it somewhat undignified to see the story sold," he said.
One of the captives, Lt. Felix Carman, said money was not his prime motivation.
"My main aim is to tell the story," Carman told the BBC. "There's some people who might be making money, but that's an individual's decision, that's very private."
The statement added that permission had been granted to ensure that the navy and ministry "had sight of what they were going to say."
Craig Murray, a former head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's maritime section, said the ministry "is going to help them and vet what they say. It's part of the continuation of propaganda and spin."