Hmm, that title doesn't really work too well in text form. Oh well, try singing it to yourself.
Anyway, those Iranians, eh? What are they like?
Craig Murray was on Newsnight yesterday making the mostly overlooked point that neither the British nor the Iranian governments were being honest about the situation. The fact is that the border between Iran and Iraq is not clearly defined; it's not actually possible to say with certainty which side of the border these sailors were on because it's not actually possible to say with certainty where the border is. That hasn't stopped both sides from claiming to be absolutely sure of their case though.
So Iran has now held the 15 British hostages for 11 whole days in clear breach of international law. Outrageous!
During the course of those 11 days in an entirely unrelated incident (note: not sarcasm) British resident Bisher al-Rawi was released from US custody and allowed to return to the UK. He had been held for more than 4 years, mostly at Guantanamo Bay. His colleague, Jamil Al-Banna, who was taken into custody at the same time, has not been released.
Last year, The Independent provided a good summary of the situation. It appears that the UK government, through MI5, was complicit in the detention of the men. That was, apparently, his reward for working as a go-between for that same MI5.
According to Amnesty International:
Their initial transfer to Bagram and subsequent one to Guantánamo Bay took place despite the fact that they had not been allowed to consult with lawyers, and despite the fact that a habeas corpus petition on their behalf was pending in the courts in Gambia.But only a hard-left cheese eating surrender monkey would even think to suggest that Al-Rawi was kidnapped by the US authorities.
Amnesty International has also been informed that the Gambian authorities, through the Gambian High Commission in London, hindered attempts by relatives of Bisher Al-Rawi and Jamil Al-Banna to ascertain the whereabouts of the two men by refusing to authorize power of attorney instructing a lawyer in Banjul to act on their behalf, thereby significantly delaying introduction of the habeas corpus petition.
Bisher Al-Rawi and Jamil Al-Banna were rendered to US custody in a manner which circumvented any judicial process, including extradition procedures, in further violation of their internationally recognized human rights.
After more than four years of imprisonment and questioning, the authorities were still unable to charge Al-Rawi with committing any crime but Beckett's statement to parliament concerning his release nevertheless implied that he was still a security risk:
This decision follows extensive discussions to address the security implications of Mr. Al Rawi's return. The UK will continue to take the necessary measures to maintain national and international security.Charming. Innocent until proven guilty is just soooo last Century...
Let me stress that the treatment of Al-Rawi does not in any way excuse the behaviour of the Iranian government in holding the 15 British sailors in the way that they have.
The Blair government's attempts at moral high ground pronouncements and complaints of Iranian breaches of international laws, however, are hard to take seriously.