Iran publishes interview of US navy captain

In apparently pre-rehearsed video interview, captain of US navy crew detained by Iran 'thanks' regime for 'fantastic' treatment.

Ari Soffer,

US navy patrol boat (file)
US navy patrol boat (file)

Iranian state TV published last night a rather embarrassing video interview with of the captain of a US navy crew taken captive by Iran.

The interview, conducted by Iran's English-language Press TV, features the bemused-looking captain answering questions fielded by an Iranian interrogator in stilted, high-pitched English, while two of his crew members look on nervously.

In what appears at times to be a pre-rehearsed exchange, the unnamed captain apologizes for his boat's mechanical failure which caused it to drift into Iranian waters, while emotionlessly describing their treatment at the hands of their Iranian captors as "fantastic."

His nervous colleagues - including a female crew member forced to wear an Islamic headscarf - look less then convinced.

But the interview is not just embarrassing for its poor quality.

It will provide further ammunition for critics of the Obama Administration for the way it handled the incident, which was used by Tehran as a propaganda achievement. The sailors were systematically humiliated at several points - in violation of the Geneva Conventions and other international laws - including airing footage of them kneeling and later sitting shoeless in front of Iranian soldiers, as well as apparently coercing the non-Muslim female crew member to don a hijab.

The White House has come in for considerable criticism for its softly-softly response, including officials "thanking" Iran for returning sailors they detained and humiliated, and allegations - which Washington denies - that Secretary of State John Kerry apologized to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, with whom he talks more regularly than any other Middle Eastern chief diplomat.