Iran releases second sailor letter

Letter calls for withdrawal of troops from Iraq; Iran TV shows kidnap op.

British sailor kidnap 29 (photo credit: AP)
British sailor kidnap 29
(photo credit: AP)
The Iranian government on Thursday released a second letter allegedly written by captured British sailor Faye Turney and calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The veracity of the letter could not immediately be determined. It was addressed to British lawmakers, and said that "unfortunately, we entered Iranian waters." "I ask the representatives of the House of Commons, after the government promised that this kind of incident wouldn't happen again, why did they let this occur, and why has the government not been questioned over this," the letter read. "Isn't it time to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?" The letter appeared to be written in the same script as a first letter, also purportedly written by Turney and released on Wednesday.
  • Burning Issues 28: How will crisis unfold?
  • Britain vs Iran: Just don't mention the war
  • Analysis: How Britain might outwit Iran in the stand-off over the captured sailors British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said there were "grave concerns" about the circumstances under which Turney's second letter was written. "This blatant attempt to use Leading Seaman Turney for propaganda purposes is outrageous and cruel," Beckett said. The second letter contains an admission that the British crew entered Iranian waters. The first letter said they "apparently" entered Iranian waters. On a videotape released Wednesday, Turney said the sailors and marines also contained an admission that the crew had gone into Iranian territory. The release of the letter and video, which showed Turney and the other captives, was condemned by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defense. Although the second letter - which has just four paragraphs - says the captive personnel are being treated humanely, there is no mention of any of Turney's personal circumstances. Her first letter contained messages of love for her husband and young daughter. The letter is in fluent, if somewhat wooden, English. Both letters praise the Iranian authorities for treating the captives well. "I would like you all to know of the treatment I have received here. The Iranian people are kind, considerate, warm, compassionate and very hospitable. "They have brought me no harm but have looked after me well. I have been fed, clothed and well cared for," the letter said. The British lawmaker who represents the city of Plymouth - where Turney's ship, the HMS Cornwall is based - said she believed the sailor had been forced to write the second letter. "It's clearly another attempt by the Iranian government to try and undermine public opinion in Britain," Alison Seabeck told Sky News. "She was clearly coerced into doing it." The letter showed a dangerous willingness by Iran to gloat over the captured British sailors, said Nadim Shehadi, an expert on Iran at London's Chatham House think tank. "It's obviously been dictated to her," Shehadi said. "There's no way she would phrase it like that." John Nichol, a former Royal Air Force navigator who was shot down over Iraq and held prisoner during the first Gulf War, said he doubted Turney herself scripted the letters. "No serviceman or woman is going to volunteer to do that sort of thing," Nichol told Sky News. "I don't know what level of coercion was used, and in many ways it doesn't matter. But she was under duress when she wrote those things and said those things."