The British sailors and marines held captive for nearly two weeks in Iran were blindfolded, bound and faced constant psychological pressure, a Royal Navy lieutenant said Friday.
Lt. Felix Carman said the crew faced harsh interrogation by their Iranian captors and slept in stone cells on piles of blankets.
"All of us were kept in isolation. We were interrogated most nights and presented with two options. If we admitted that we'd strayed, we'd be on a plane to (Britain) pretty soon," Carman said. "If we didn't, we faced up to seven years in prison."
Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air said the crew of 15, which was out on a routine operation on March 23, was confronted by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
"They rammed our boats, and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs, and weapons on us. Another six boats were closing in on us," Air said. "We realized that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won, with consequences that would have major strategic impacts. We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians."
Carman had been pictured on Iranian television apologizing for straying into Iranian waters. At Friday's news conference, he retracted that apology.
"Let me make this clear, irrespective of what was said in the past, we were inside Iraqi waters," he said.
The most visible of the seized sailors and marines was Leading Seaman Faye Turney, a 26-year-old mother of one. Her letters home received widespread publicity in Britain, particularly one in which she requested the British government withdraw from Iraq.
Air said she was singled out for propaganda purposes, held in solitary confinement and told the others had gone home.
"She was under the impression for about four days that she was the only one there," Air said. "She coped admirably and has maintained a lot of dignity."
Band told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that the crew had "acted with considerable dignity and a lot of courage."