White House spokesman Josh Earnest
White House spokesman Josh Earnest Reuters

The White House said on Wednesday that it is pleased that Iran released 10 American sailors it had detained, but continues to have concerns about Tehran's sponsorship of terrorism and threats to Israel, Reuters reports.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told Reuters he was not aware of any discussions between Washington and Tehran about an American apology for the incident and noted one "certainly" had not been given.

Earnest explained that President Barack Obama had not mentioned the incident during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night so as not to elevate the issue and jeopardize the sailors' release.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran released the 10 navy sailors it detained a day earlier after they accidentally strayed into Iranian waters.

Contrary to Earnest’s later claims, Iranian media had reported that the 10 were released after it was determined they had entered Iranian waters "unintentionally," and after the U.S. "apologized" for the incident, as per Tehran's demands.

Later on Wednesday, Iranian media published dramatic photos depicting the 10 sailors at the time of their capture.

The images show the 10 terrified sailors, forced onto their knees with their hands atop their heads, as their captors rifle through the paperwork and machine guns on deck.