Volvo 60 crew under tow back to international waters

The five British yachtsmen detained by Iran after drifting into its territorial waters were being towed back to freedom today after being released.

Iranian state radio announced the men’s release early this morning, six days after they were seized near the Iranian island of Sirri, where they had then been held.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that the delivery crew and their yacht, the Volvo 60 Kingdom of Bahrain, were being towed by Iranian vessels back into international waters in the Gulf, where they would be met by boats from the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.

The release of the sailors came hours after David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. He called for formal consular access to the men, who have been held since November 25, and their speedy release.

Confirming the men’s departure from Sirri, Mr Miliband today praised Iran for its “professional” approach to what had always been a purely consular matter and said he was happy for the men and their families after their ordeal of the past week.

He told reporters: “I think this is just a straightforward matter: it’s not a significant matter; it’s not a political matter; I don’t believe that there’s any wider significance. It shows that diplomacy can work.”

Statement from Andrew Pindar OBE, Chairman of Sail Bahrain.

We

received confirmation from the Foreign Office at 0830 this morning that

our sailors had been released by the Iranian authorities. We are all

absolutely thrilled with the news.

It has been an extremely worrying time for all of us and particularly for the families and loved ones of those on board.

The

team has sent out a boat to meet the crew, where our Team Director,

Nick Crabtree is looking forward to accompanying them safely to shore.

I

would like to take this opportunity to thank the Foreign Office and the

British and Bahrain Embassies for all their help and for bringing the

matter to a swift conclusion and to the Iranian authorities for their

understanding. 

Times Online for the full story.