Britain celebrates impending release of seized sailors and marines

Overjoyed relatives of the freed British naval crew swigged champagne Wednesday at news of their release by Iran and planned homecoming celebrations, but some remained skeptical until the 15 are back on British soil. Yellow ribbons hung on the walls of local pubs on Britain's south coast where the crew is based as families gathered around to watch Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's news conference when he announced the crew would be freed. "I'm absolutely ecstatic," said Sandra Sperry, mother of 22-year-old marine Adam Sperry. "I can't believe this is happening. I never expected it," she told Britain's Sky News. "I thought this would go until the end of next week at least." A vigil planned Friday at his local pub in Leicester, central England, would now be a party. "Whoever has been in the right or wrong, the whole thing has been a political mess, so let's just get them home," said Perry's uncle, Ray Cooper. The crew is expected to land in London on Thursday afternoon. "I am just so happy today," said April Rawsthorne, 21-year-old sailor Nathan Summers' grandmother in the coastal town of Hayle. "I am glad it has all been settled quickly," said friend John Daniels, landlord of the town's Cornish Arms pub. "But I just hope they do not change their mind." Maggie Phillips, sister of sailor Arthur Batchelor, said her family would not rest until the crew returned home to Britain. "We want him on that plane and stood in front of us, before we really actually believe he's coming home," Phillips told Sky News. Speaking at her home in south Wales, Alison Carman, mother of Lt. Felix Carman, said her family were "hoping and praying that nothing goes wrong." "We are being cautiously optimistic," she said. "We are praying that everything goes smoothly. But I don't think that I will believe it is true until he is standing before us in flesh and blood and I can hug him." "I'm just relieved," said Chris Coe's father Stephen Coe, at the family home in Huddersfield, northern England. "We're absolutely over the moon. It's the best news we've had for a long time." The end of the saga, which has kept Britons rapt for almost two weeks, was met with relief, but members of the public questioned Ahmadinejad's agenda in meeting with the captured crew. "It's very much a political score," said Niall Cassidy, 39, a surveyor from Solihull, central England. "They were looking to gain something political out of it ... the acceptance of their nuclear program?" Carol Toms, a 52-year-old manager, from Romford, in south eastern England, said the capture of the crew was "deplorable." "They should never have been taken hostage in the first place. They shouldn't have been using them for propaganda," she said.