Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The British sailors taken into Iranian custody last month are expected to be released today.

"TEHRAN, Iran— President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would free the 15 detained British sailors and marines today as an Easter holiday "gift" to the British people.

Iranian state television said the 14 men and one woman, who were seized while on patrol in the northern Persian gulf on March 23, would leave Iran tomorrow. An Iranian official in London said they would be handed over to British diplomats in Tehran."

Well-played by Ahmadinejad -- at a time when Iran has become more and more isolated on the world stage, he's positioned himself as someone who's willing to be reasonable and talk diplomatically. No doubt this was the intention all along, to use the capture of the sailors as a PR opportunity to polish up the Iranian president's tarnished image while also showing Iran's strength and giving it a little more leverage. (Does Mahmoud have Karl's number on speed dial?) Ahmadinejad is clearly enjoying his role as beneficent giver of the gift of freedom -- he gave an amusing wag of the finger to the British government for sending a woman with children off to sea:

"How can you justify seeing a mother away from her home, her children? Why don't they respect family values in the West?"