(photo credit: )
The 15 British sailors and marines abducted in Iran in March and released Thursday were, in fact, taken captive while gathering intelligence on Iranian activity, Captain Chris Air, who was in charge of the crew, told Sky News.
According to Air, the British team was assigned to maintain contact with fishermen working in the politically sensitive waters.
UK: 'Captives were held in solitary confinement'
In addition to protecting the fishermen, who have been targeted by Iranian soldiers in the past, the British soldiers would speak to them about any terrorism and/or piracy in the area.
"Obviously, we're right by the buffer zone with Iran," Air said.
UK Defense Secretary Des Browne told Sky that intelligence was important to "keeping [his] people safe."
Air gave the interview five days before the kidnapping, but its contents were not revealed until Thursday so as not to endanger the captives.