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Unclear When Iran Will Release British Detainees

23 June 2004 -- It remains unclear when Iranian authorities will release eight British military servicemen detained on 21 June for illegally entering Iranian waters.

Sources from Iran's Foreign Ministry today said the sailors had been released, but later said the men had not yet been freed.

Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam satellite television then said the handover of the eight men to British authorities will likely be delayed until tomorrow.

Iran's state-run news agency IRNA has said an inquiry had established the eight sailors -- who were detained with their three boats -- had entered Iranian waters by mistake and without hostile intent.

British defense officials say the men were assisting in the training of Iraqi forces when they were detained in the Shatt Al-Arab waterway that divides Iran and Iraq for illegally entering Iranian waters.