Wednesday, June 6

Iran's Other Hostages II

Iran captured three more hostages over the weekend. This time they managed to capture three Finns who were out in the Gulf 'fishing'.

Iranian officials arrested three Finns working for Nokia Siemens Networks in the Persian Gulf on Saturday. Nokia Siemens confirmed the matter to Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday morning.

"The men were fishing off Dubai when they were arrested", says the company's Head of Corporate Communications Barry French. He added that the men work in Dubai.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is working to secure the release of the men. "We suspect that they have accidentally drifted into Iranian waters near the island of Abu Musa", reported Foreign Ministry official Pasi Tuominen late on Tuesday to Helsingin Sanomat. - Helsingin Sanomat

This story will sound familiar to regular readers as it is similar to the case profiled in the first Other Hostages post from March. (Iran's Other Hostages) Getting too close to that very same island cost German Donald Klein 15 months in an Iranian jail, most likely because the Germans refused to release an Iranian Agent they had in their custody.

I am not aware of any issue the Iranian's might have with Finland. It could have just been a capture of opportunity. I am a bit surprised that they would end up in the same area known to have been a problem in the past. While the UAE claims the island, it is also claimed, and occupied, by Iran.

I have no idea how this is going to turn out. It will be interesting to see if the Iranian's opt to piss off the Finns as well by letting this drag on for a couple of weeks or months. (The fact that they work for Nokia Seamens is probably not going to help matters. Communications engineers can more easily be accused of spying. Not that Iran needs facts to back their accusations)

Seems the Iranians see no need to hold Finns hostage:

Iran is to free three Finnish men seized in the Persian Gulf on Saturday within 48 hours, the Finnish foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Pasi Tuominen, a legation counsellor at the ministry, told the Finnish News Agency (STT) that talks with Iranian officials indicated that the Finnish citizens would be released in two days' time. - Newsroom Finland

Could be that this was just some huge misunderstanding. Lets see if they get their boat back.

Update: 7 June
It appears that they have been released and are just waiting for the right opportunity to get off the island, to Tehran and then out of the country. This would indicate that the Iranians decided to keep their boat. More info here:

Iran releases Finnish businessmen - Helsingin Sanomat

Update: 8 June
The latest is that they are free to go once the weather clears, and they will be able to keep the boat. There is also this:

The men, who were stopped by the Iranians near the island of Abu Musa, had not informed Dubai officials about their planned fishing trip, although Salah says that it would have been advisable to do so.

In Dubai, all vessels carrying taking people on sight-seeing or fishing trips need to apply for permission from the Coast Guard before going out to sea. For private boaters it is enough for them to have a local driving licence or passport with them. - Helsingin Sanomat


A summary on the strategic value of the Strait can be found here:
Flashpoint: Strait of Hormuz - WILLisms

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