Five Iranians, who had been arrested on board their ship back in 2009, have been freed after more than two years behind bars in Yemen.
The released Iranians, the captain, three members of his crew and the owner of the vessel, arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran on Saturday night.
Captain Shaaker Matouri said he was forced to dock at an island between Yemen and Saudi Arabia close to international waters because of stormy sea conditions. He was then tricked into following a Yemeni fishing boat into Yemen’s territorial waters, where they were arrested and imprisoned.
Matouri said that they were subjected to mental torture, adding that they were held in solitary confinement for three months, and at times held alongside al-Qaeda terrorists.
On October 26, 2009, Yemen announced that it had seized the Iranian ship, named Mahan. Yemeni authorities later accused the crew members of transporting weapons, but the Iranian captain stated that the ship was not carrying any cargo. However, the vessel was confiscated.
Iranian authorities secured their release after the Red Cross confirmed that they were being held in Yemen.