Iran practices catch and release with Finnish anglers

Here's a piece of good news: the three Finns held by Iran have been freed, although a storm warning has prevented them from leaving the island where they were detained. The men, employees of Nokia Siemens Networks working in Dubai, were nabbed by the Iranian authorities last Saturday when they strayed into Iranian waters on a fishing trip. According to a Foreign Ministry representative, they've been treated well and the Iranians have reportedly taken them sightseeing.

The Finnish government handled the incident very quietly. The Foreign Ministry learned of the events (fi) already on Saturday, but didn't inform the media about it till Tuesday evening. Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said that "the goal was not publicity, but freeing the men", and defended the choice as entirely correct considering the local circumstances. President Tarja Halonen concurred.

For comparison, a British couple and and Australian man who were detained by Iran under similar circumstances last year were held for 13 days, considerably longer than the Finns. Of course the Brits and the Aussie may have been viewed with more suspicion by the Iranians on account of nationality alone. According to the Iranian ambassador to Finland, "the matter was resolved because relations between the two countries are excellent."

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