State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday that Iran’s treatment of U.S. Navy sailors could have violated the Geneva Convention.
When asked whether forcing the sailors to put their hands over their heads was in breach, Toner said that taking video or images of prisoners of war would be a violation of the Geneva Convention.
"I mean, generally speaking, you're not supposed to show images of detained prisoners of war," Toner said. He then said that the videos will be assessed for their authenticity.
"But, you know, again, we’ve got some videos out there circulating, we don’t know if they’re authentic. We don’t know much about them other than they’re out there circulating out there right now. We’re going to assess," Toner said.
Article 13 of the Geneva Convention states that prisoners of war must be "protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."
On Wednesday, Iranian state television released footage of 10 U.S. Navy sailors that reportedly navigated into Iranian territory by accident Tuesday.
In the photos, the sailors, held by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, are shown kneeling with their hands on their heads. Other images show the sailors without their equipment or weapons, with one female sailor wearing a hijab. One video also shows a sailor apologizing for the incursion. Some have dubbed the footage a "propaganda victory" for Iran.
Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iranian authorities for their "cooperation and quick response" Wednesday, and said that it appeared the sailors were "well taken care of."