U-turn on sailor story sales

Britain bans further media deals for navy personnel freed by Iran.

    Iran said footage, released on Sunday, refuted claims that the soldiers had been mistreated [AFP]

    His announcement will not affect any service members who have already talked to media, a defence ministry spokesman said, but it will bar the others from reaching new deals with the media.
     
    Major-General Sir Patrick Cordingly, a commander during the 1991 Gulf war, told BBC radio: "The sailors and marines will regret it [selling their stories] and realise it was not such a good idea to cash in.
     
    "I hope they give all the money to charity."
     
    Sailor 'cried like a baby'
     
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    Britain's defence ministry faced much criticism this week after two of the captives sold their stories to the media, having received permission to do so from the ministry.
     
    Faye Turney, the only woman captive in the group, gave interviews to a British tabloid newspaper and to a television news programme, earning what has been estimated as $200,000.
     
    She said the Iranians asked how she felt about dying for her country and warned her that she might never see her daughter again.
     
    Arthur Batchelor, the youngest captive, also sold his story, saying he "cried like a baby" in his cell after he was blindfolded, handcuffed and taunted by guards.
     
    On Sunday, Iranian state television broadcast a video showing the British navy crew playing games, chatting, laughing and watching television during their captivity.
     
    Tehran said the footage refuted any claim that the soldiers had been mistreated.
     
    Reality TV stars
     
    In the UK, Turney and Batchelor have been accused of behaving "like reality TV stars".
     
    Colonel Bob Stewart, a former British commander of UN forces in Bosnia, said he was "appalled" that the captives had been encouraged to profit from a "military disaster".
     
    "Some of them are acting like reality TV stars," he said in an interview with a British Sunday paper.
     
    But the strongest criticism was directed at the UK's defence ministry, which earlier said it had waived rules barring members of the military speaking to the media because of public interest in the story.
     
    Reg Keys, whose son Thomas was killed in Iraq four years ago, said he believed that the government was using the sailors to pursue a propaganda battle with Iran.
     
    "There are people serving in Iraq with possibly far more interesting stories who are not allowed to talk to the media," Keys said.
     
    "When my son died, his colleagues were not allowed to speak to their families about it, let alone the press."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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