Sunday, April 1, 2007

Iranian Ambassador To Russia Says He Was Mistranslated

We've been reading news of the UK/Iran "crisis" through the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, and Friday we saw a report indicating that the detained British sailors were perhaps about to be tried, and could face punishment in Iran.

Yesterday Iran's ambassador to Russia said his remarks had been mistranslated, as indicated in this story from RIAN:

Iranian ambassador accuses Russian TV channel of mistranslation
TEHRAN/MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's ambassador to Russia said Saturday Russia's satellite channel Vesti 24 voiced an erroneous translation of his words about the possible fate of 15 British sailors and marines detained by Iran last week.

Some media quoted the ambassador, Gholam Reza Ansari [photo], as telling Vesti 24 Friday that the 15 detainees could be put on trial in Iran.

"What I really told the TV channel was that the situation with the detained British seamen has entered a legal phase," Ansari told Iranian news agency IRNA Saturday. "The channel mistranslated the part of the interview dealing with the detained British sailors, and reported they could be sentenced."

On March 23, the U.K. announced that Iran had detained 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines from the HMS Cornwall in Iraqi territorial waters, which in accordance with a UN Security Council mandate under Resolution 1723 was inspecting ships in the Persian Gulf, but Iran has said they had been 0.3 miles inside Iranian waters at the time of detention.

Ansari reiterated that should the U.K. admit that the sailors and marines entered Iranian waters illegally, the problem would be resolved immediately.

The editor-in-chief of the Vesti 24 channel denied any mistranslation.

"We are perplexed with the appearance of distorted information with reference to our channel," Dmitry Mednikov said.

He said the interview was translated by an Iranian embassy translator, and then it was "repeatedly referred to by world media." Mednikov said it "must have been on that stage that the information was distorted."

Iran's Foreign Ministry officially accused the Royal Navy of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters.

In response, London froze official bilateral official contacts, suspended the issuance of visas to Iranian officials and referred the situation to the UN Security Council Wednesday.

The Security Council expressed serious concern over the detention of the sailors, and urged the Iranian leadership to allow British diplomats to visit the detainees.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Thursday that London should admit the territorial violation, as it would help secure the release of the 15 sailors.

Iran has said London should send a special commission to Tehran to investigate the incident.

Iran's Foreign Ministry Saturday called on the European Union not to interfere with the situation.

"The EU should not interfere with bilateral problems of Iran and Britain. The Iranian Foreign Ministry calls on European states' representatives to abstain from unconsidered and irresponsible statements regarding the detention of 15 British servicemen who illegally entered Iran's territorial waters," the ministry said.
I will try to keep bringing you news of this "crisis" from foreign sources, since the domestic sources don't appear to be up to the challenge.