Five sailors including an Irish journalist who were detained after apparently straying into Iranian waters have been released, it was reported today.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency said the yachtsmen, among them David Bloomer, originally from Malahide, were freed after an interrogation by authorities found that they had entered Iranian waters by mistake.
“After carrying out an investigation and interrogation of the five British sailors, it became clear that their illegal entry was a mistake,” a statement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said.
“After obtaining necessary guarantees, it was decided to release them.”
The families of the men welcomed the reports from Iran, which were not immediately confirmed by the UK Foreign Office.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had last night pressed his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki for information on what his country planned to do with the group.
In a personal conversation he also demanded formal consular access to the men.
The Iranian Foreign Minister said he would provide a response as soon as possible.
The Kingdom Of Bahrain racing yacht, owned by Sail Bahrain, was stopped by the Iranian navy as it sailed from Bahrain to Dubai.
Oliver Smith, 31, from Southampton, Oliver Young, 21, from Saltash, near Plymouth, Sam Usher, 26, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Luke Porter, 21, from Weston-super-Mare, and Bahrain-based radio presenter Bloomer, thought to be in his 60s, were on board.
The crew was heading to Dubai to join the 360-mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race, which was due to start last Thursday.
Race organisers said the sailors may have been “drifting” after experiencing propeller problems.