British couple and Australian man released after 13-day hold in Iran

A British couple and an Australian man held in Iran for 13 days have been released safely, the Foreign Office said Friday. Rupert and Linda Wise were stopped by the Iranian navy on Oct. 28 as they sailed from their home in Dubai toward the disputed island of Abu Musa, which both Iran and the United Arab Emirates claim, the office said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said he did not know whether they had been charged with any crime while they were held.

Paul Shulton, an Australian, was taken with the Wises and has also been released, the spokesman said, declining to be identified in keeping with government policy.

"It has been distressing for the Wises and for their family," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "I am very glad that they have been released safely and without any charge by the Iranians."

"It took a good deal of work behind the scenes to achieve this result and I am just relieved that we have got there," he said.

Ties between Britain and Iran have been rocky in recent months.

Talks over Iran's disputed nuclear program broke down in August.

A British official later accused Iran's Revolutionary Guard of giving Iraqi insurgents bomb-making technology that they have used in attacks on British troops in Iraq, the AP reports.

And British Prime Minister Tony Blair responded furiously last month to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's assertion that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

Blair said the comment was "completely and totally unacceptable" and "a disgrace."

"How are we going to build a more secure world with that type of attitude?" he said.


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