Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday said his country will free the 15 captured UK sailors and marines as a "gift" to Britain. He said they would be released after a news conference he held in Tehran. he said that this has nothing to do with the recent release of one of the Iranian hostages in Iraq.
President Ahmadinejad made the pledge after awarding medals to the "brave" border guards who detained the Britons. "I would like to thank the Iranian coast guard for courgeously defending our Iranian territorial waters," he said.
He then pinned medals on the chests of three Coast Guard officers. The Iranian leader said he was "saddened" that Britain had violated Iranian waters.
He also accused the British Government of concealing the truth about the affair and the EU of being too quick to condemn Iran.
Later, Ahmadinejad met the 15 British sailors as they were released at the presidential compound, wishing them success for the future. "We are are grateful for your forgiveness," one of the sailors told the President. All the men were wearing blue or grey suits.