McCain Threatens to Subpoena American Sailors Detained by Iran

Senator demands answers from Obama administration

Iran state media


Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) is demanding answers from the Obama administration about the 10 American sailors detained by Iran last month, threatening to subpoena the Navy personnel if more information about their detention is not released promptly.

The Washington Examiner reported that McCain told reporters he does not want to "exercise" the option of subpoenaing the sailors but that he will if the administration does not release the conclusions of an investigation into the sailors’ detention by March 1.

The sailors and their two small naval craft were arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Persian Gulf on January 12. Iran, accusing the sailors of drifting into its territorial waters, held the Americans overnight and released them the following morning. The sailors’ detention came just days before the official implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, which released billions of dollars in sanctions relief to the country.

Little information about the incident has been released by the administration. A preliminary account of the events released by the Pentagon in January said that the sailors were taken into Iranian custody after one of the Navy craft encountered a mechanical problem, which caused the sailors to stop and troubleshoot while en route from Kuwait and Bahrain. The sailors deviated from their planned route through the Persian Gulf, though the report did not explain why.

The Pentagon’s preliminary timeline also disclosed that the sailors were arrested at gunpoint and that the Iranian military returned two of the sailors’ phones without SIM cards.

A Navy command investigation began on January 14 is expected to yield more information on the circumstances surrounding the sailors’ arrest.

On the day of the sailors’ release, Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iran for its "cooperation" in the situation and for taking good care of the Americans. The same day, Iran state media released images of the U.S. sailors in captivity, their equipment and weapons seized. Iran has also published images of one of the sailors crying.

Last week, participants in a Tehran parade honoring the 1979 Islamic Revolution recreated scenes of the sailors’ capture, appearing to mock the Americans, according to photographs circulated on social media.

Iran’s supreme leader has honored the Iranian naval personnel for detaining the Americans, awarding five commanders medals for their actions.

Morgan Chalfant   Email Morgan | Full Bio | RSS
Morgan Chalfant is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Morgan worked as a staff writer at Red Alert Politics. She also served as the year-long Collegiate Network fellow on the editorial page at USA TODAY from 2013-14. Morgan graduated from Boston College in 2013 with a B.A. in English and Mathematics. Her Twitter handle is @mchalfant16.

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