Iran Holding German, French Men in Custody over Sailing Flap

Iran said Sunday it is holding a German man and a Frenchman whose boat strayed into its territorial waters while they were on a sailing vacation last month.

The men were detained for "illegal entry into Iran's territorial waters," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. He said the men were healthy and had spoken to their embassies by telephone but were still being questioned.

Asefi said their case is in the hands of the Iranian judiciary and that the men's rights were being maintained.

Germany's government said Thursday that Iranian authorities were holding the two men.

The Rheinpfalz newspaper reported that the 52-year-old German had been on vacation with his wife and a French friend in the United Arab Emirates. The two men were arrested on Nov. 29 during a fishing trip in the Straits of Hormuz, apparently after straying into Iranian waters, it said.

On Dec. 13, the German Foreign Ministry called in the legal attache from the Iranian Embassy in Berlin to insist that German diplomats be allowed access to their citizen, Germany said.

The man, whom German officials have reached by telephone, was in good health and had not been mistreated during questioning, the spokesman said.

Germany and France, along with Britain, have been leading European diplomatic efforts to address concerns over Iran's nuclear program.