Three Finns released by Iran return to Dubai

Three Finnish men, seized last week by Iran in the Persian Gulf, have returned safely to Dubai, Nokia Siemens Networks said Saturday.

The men, employed by the Finnish-German telecom equipment group, had been treated well by Iranian officials who arrested them after their fishing party strayed into Iran's territorial waters last Saturday, company spokesman Barry French said.

"The men were released on Wednesday but were stuck on the island of Abu Musa because of a tropical storm," French said. "They returned today, and are in good spirits."

Abu Musa, a Gulf island considered to be of strategic importance, is claimed both by Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

The Finns, who live and work in Dubai, had been on a weekend fishing trip when they "apparently mistakenly navigated into Iranian waters," French said, adding that Iran is unlikely to bring charges against them.

The men were in touch with their families while they were being held, he said, but declined to give any personal details, in line with their requests.

Following the arrests, the Finnish Foreign Ministry revised its advisory on the Persian Gulf, saying that travel near Abu Musa and other islands in the region should be avoided.

The ministry, which contacted Iranian officials soon after the men were seized, gave few details about negotiations for their release. But Iranian Embassy officials in Helsinki said last week that they expected the men to be freed quickly because of the Nordic country's good relations with Iran.

In March, Iranian Revolutionary Guards detained 15 British sailors and marines after seizing their ship in what Tehran claimed were Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf. Britain insisted the crew was in Iraqi waters at the time. The 15 were released after nearly two weeks in captivity.

A British couple and an Australian man were released last year after being held in Iran for 13 days after their sailing boat strayed into Iranian waters near Abu Musa.

In November 2005, Iranian officials arrested a Frenchman and a German during a sailing trip, purportedly for taking photos of ships in the Persian Gulf. The men were released this year.