PayvandNews – Iran’s interior minister called on Wednesday for the immediate release of three Iranian fishermen who were detained by the Saudi navy last week, saying their boasts were pushed off course by waves.
cartoon by Keyvan Varessi, Iranian daily Ghanoon
“Carrying fishing and legal permits, three fishing boats departed from (Iranian) Bushehr Port on Thursday toward deep Persian Gulf waters.
“Fishing at midnight, the boats had lost their control due to tumultuous waves, two of which pushed off course into Saudi waters,” read part of the statement by the ministry.
While one of the boats had managed to steer back into Iranian waters, the other two had come under fire from the Saudi coastguard, it added.
One of the fishermen of the boat returning into Iranian waters got killed in the shooting.
“It is required that that the Saudi government compensate for the damage incurred, punish those who committed the irresponsible act, and take immediate measures to release the detained fishermen,” the statement further noted.
The development is expected to further complicate relations between the two countries, which escalated last month when U.S. President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and took a bellicose stance against Iran in an official speech.
Relations are at their worst in years, with Tehran and Riyadh supporting opposite sides in Syria.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s information ministry offered a different narrative, claiming that the arrestees were members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who were trying to approach the kingdom’s offshore Marjan oilfield for sabotage purposes.
“This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped,” a statement from the ministry’s center for international communications said.
“The three captured members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are now being questioned by Saudi authorities,” it said, citing a Saudi official.
On Tuesday, IRGC deputy chief for political affairs Rassoul Sanaeerad slammed the Saudi claim as an outright lie.