British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Government came under attack Monday for allowing the sailors and marines held captive by Iran and released last week to sell their stories, amid claims that they are being used as “pawns” in a propaganda battle.
Conservative members of parliament called the decision to wave the ban on active-duty military personnel receiving money for their stories "a new low of Labor spin," the Time of London reported.
The decision didn't sit well with some of the captives, either, with one calling the situation “a little unsavory”.
The widespread disapproval of the interview policy came as two of the sailors gave details of their ordeal in interviews with national newspapers and as Iranian television released fresh footage of the British captives, showing them as a group relaxing and playing table tennis. The film appeared designed to refute the accounts of the personnel that they had been held isolated in tiny cells for much of their time in captivity.
Leading Seaman Faye Turney’s story appeared in The Sun newspaper, in which she said she believed her captors had measured her for a coffin and planned to kill her. The 25-year-old says she turned down a higher fee from another media outlet to accept a significantly lower figure from The Sun and the ITV program "Tonight With Trevor McDonald," on which she will appear Monday night. She has said she will give a percentage of her fee to HMS Cornwall for the benefit of its crew and their families.
The youngest captive, Arthur Batchelor, 20, sold his account to the Daily Mirror newspaper, and described how guards had mocked him, calling him “Mr Bean,” and said that he had he cried himself to sleep at night, the Times reported.
The Times of London contributed to this report.