The detention of 10 U.S. Navy sailors taken into custody by Tehran after their two boats drifted into Iranian waters “is being resolved,” a leading Iranian official said, indicating they could be set free as early as Wednesday.
“Investigation shows that entry of American sailors into Iran’s territorial waters was due to mechanical problems in their navigation system,” Gen. Ali Fadavi, Navy chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, was quoted as saying on Iran’s state TV.
U.S. officials had said on Tuesday that Tehran assured them the crew and vessels would be returned safely and promptly.
Earlier Wednesday, Fadavi said the American boats had shown “unprofessional acts” for 40 minutes before being picked up by Iranian forces after entering the country’s territorial waters.
The U.S. detainees included nine men and one woman, who were being held overnight at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. They were expected to be transferred Wednesday to a U.S. ship in the region.
“US naval force and their frigate showed an unprofessional behavior and had air and naval moves for 40 minutes in the area,” Fadavi said at one point. He said Tehran did not consider the U.S. Navy boats violating Iranian territorial waters as “innocent passage.”