Wrong precedent

WHILE the detained British sailors have returned home safe from Iran, that occasioned the beginning of another controversy, namely, whether they should have been allowed to “sell their story” to select elements in the British media. If anything, and in spite of prime minister Tony Blair's defence of officials who granted this permission, this has set a wrong precedent.

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Published: Sun 15 Apr 2007, 8:24 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:50 AM

It's one thing for a celebrity to sell his or her story selectively to one or other journal, as is often the case with the British tabloids. It's quite another for the group of British sailors to be at the centre of an internationally explosive political controversy, raise more stink before their release by blaming their own government for their ordeal, and then return home to have been accorded the freedom to reveal their experiences to select media groups for a price. This also rebels against the concept of military discipline.

The stories of these sailors were politically potent. The world had a right to know from the horses' own mouths as to what had happened; both for record and for posterity. Hence, this is something that cannot be treated lightly, or like another money-making proposition, as the sailors are obviously allowed to do. That's why there is a justifiable ground for demanding action against the officials.

It is not all too clear yet as to how the sailors have found themselves in the plight (of detention in a foreign soil) they were in. And, it was apparently as a result of the pressure that was brought to bear upon the Iranian government that Teheran has released them, irrespective of whether these sailors were guilty or not. While Iran has couched such a gesture in diplomatic niceties like the release being a gift to mark Good Friday and the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the real meaning was not altogether lost sight of.

Under the circumstances, allowing the sailors to sell their stories to select media groups cannot be justified in any way. Whether officials should be taken to task for it or not, or whether the political brass had something to do with it, is upto the British establishment to decide.

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