Finnish Ambassador: No information on three Finns Iran seized in the Gulf

Says Iranian officials assure him three men are in good condition.

fishing boat 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
fishing boat 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Iran has detained three Finns for allegedly straying into its territorial waters during a fishing trip in the Persian Gulf but is releasing no information on their whereabouts, the Finnish ambassador to Teheran said Wednesday. Ambassador Heikki Puurunen said Iranian officials assured him that the three men were in good condition and had been treated well since their Saturday detention. However, Puurunen told AP, Iran had not yet agreed to a Finnish request to see the men in accordance with consular agreements between the two countries. "The only message we have got from the Iranians is that they are in good condition and they are taking good care of them," Puurunen said. "They said that they will inform us as soon as possible ... in Iran it usually it takes some time to get these things." The three men were employed in the United Arab Emirates by Nokia Siemens Networks in Dubai and were seized off the nearby island of Abu Musa, the ambassador said. He declined to release their names or other personal details. "Of course we want to know how they are but we have been assured that they are well," he said. "We have good relations with Iran, so hopefully that will help." Nokia Siemens said the three employees were on vacation. "It would appear that they mistakenly navigated into Iranian waters during a fishing trip," Nokia Siemens spokesman Barry French said, but gave no other details. Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said Finland expected Iranian "authorities to act in accordance with our wishes" and added that Helsinki "sent the local foreign ministry there many messages." An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday that he was not aware of the case. Iranian state media contained no reports on the detentions. But following the seizure of the Finns, the Foreign Ministry in Helsinki revised its travel advisory on the Persian Gulf, saying that travel near Abu Musa and other islands in the region should be avoided. Iranian Revolutionary Guards detained 15 British sailors and marines after seizing their ship on March 23 in what Teheran claimed were Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf. Britain insisted the crew was in Iraqi waters at the time. The 15 were released after nearly two weeks in captivity. In November, 2005, Iranian officials arrested a Frenchman and a German during a sailing trip, purportedly for taking photos of ships in the Persian Gulf. Stephane Lherbier and Donald Klein were convicted in January 2006 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Lherbier, the Frenchman, was released in February 2007, and Klein was freed in March.