April 4, 2007
Iran's president says Iran will free the 15 detained British sailors and marines Wednesday as an Easter holiday gift to the British people.
Iran's president looked like he was enjoying every minute of personally pardoning 15 captured British troops.
Gone were the army fatigues; the sailors and marines were given their
freedom and brand new suits to celebrate it. The celebration went on for awhile as servicemen were seen high-fiving each other later in the day on Iranian television.
"The pardon of the 15 Britons is a gift from the Iranian people," said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president.
Ahmadenijad said British forces had invaded Iranian waters, but would be freed as an easter gift to Britain.
The apology Iran wanted from Britain never came, and the demand for
it was dropped. British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised his government
for remaining firm but calm.
"To the Iranian people I would like to say this, we bear you no ill will," said Blair.
The nuts and bolts of the negotiation will play out over the next few days, but Syria claims it played a key role in the release.
The British troops are expected to be on the first flight out of Tehran
Thursday morning, meaning they'll be back in Britain in time for
"What can I say more than we just want you home and we'll celebrate," said April Rawsthorne, the grandmother of a captured sailor.
As gracious as their Iranian host may have appeared, jokingly calling
their stay a "mandatory vacation," the real holiday will begin when troops have touched down safe and sound on British soil.