The 10 American sailors detained by the Iranian military were reportedly instructed to “act happy” while being videotaped in captivity, according to a defense official with knowledge of the sailors’ debriefing.
CNN reported that the official also said that the sailor who was questioned on camera by Iranian personnel indicated that he felt compelled by the Iranians to speak about how well he and his fellow naval personnel were treated. It remains unclear whether he was ordered to apologize.
Following the sailors’ release Wednesday, Iran state media released video recording of the sailor saying, “It was a mistake. That was our fault, and we apologize for our mistake.”
Iran held the 10 sailors–nine male and one female–and their two Navy boats in custody overnight Tuesday, accusing them of drifting into Iranian territorial waters while moving between Kuwait and Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the sailors’ detention.
Iran state television also released images of the sailors in captivity Wednesday. In the pictures, the sailors appeared to have their personal gear and weapons seized. Some images also showed Iranian personnel viewing the sailors’ documents and handling their weapons and ammunition.
The sailors’ detention has sparked fierce criticism of the Obama administration, Republican lawmakers describing the sailors’ arrest as more reason for the U.S. not to trust Iran in its implementation of the nuclear deal.
The administration has, alternatively, couched the sailors’ release as a diplomatic victory.
On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the administration was not embarrassed by the images of the sailors released by Iran state media.
“I don’t think that there is any reason for anybody to be embarrassed. I think there is reason for us to be certainly relieved that our service men and women who are protecting America in a very dangerous part of the world were released pretty shortly after they were taken into custody,” Earnest said.