Daily Mirror: Hostages Arthur Batchelor and Faye Turney told yesterday of their ordeal at the hands of Iran’s bully-boys. The Daily Mirror
By Robert Stansfield And Chris Hughes
ARTHUR: I WAS FROZEN WITH TERROR.. TO BE HONEST I JUST CRIED LIKE A BABY
HOSTAGES Arthur Batchelor and Faye Turney told yesterday of their ordeal at the hands of Iran’s bully-boys.
Faye revealed how she feared her captors were measuring her for her own COFFIN. And Arthur told how he was blindfolded, tormented and dumped in solitary confinement for days on end.
The 20-year-old sailor Arthur – youngest of the 15 Brits snatched by the Iranians – bravely battled to retain his composure but eventually broke down and sobbed like a baby in his tiny cell because he was sure execution was imminent.
He also revealed that Faye was convinced she was going to be raped after fanatical Revolutionary Guards who seized them became agitated on discovering they had captured a woman.
Arthur said: “The blood drained from her face and Faye whispered ‘There’s going to be a rape involved in this’.”
Faye, 25, who has a three-year-old daughter named Molly, told how she believed her coffin was being made after hearing someone sawing wood and hammering nails just outside her cell.
She added: “I couldn’t work out what it was. Then a woman came into my cell to measure me up from head to toe with a tape. She shouted the measurements to a man outside.”
Faye also told how guards lied to her by claiming her colleagues had been released – leaving only her as a captive.
She recalled of one guard: “He rubbed the top of my head and said with a smile ‘Oh no, they’ve gone home. Just you now.’
“At that moment I just totally lost it. All I could think of was what my family must be going through. What would my husband Adam be telling Molly?
“I cried my eyes out. I asked the guards about my friends but all they did was laugh at me.” She said other Iranians then offered her a deal which would see her freed within a fortnight. She said: “They didn’t shout like the others. One said he had come to make me an offer.
“If I confessed to being in Iranian waters and wrote letters to my family, the British people and the Iranian people, I’d be free within two weeks. If I didn’t they’d put me on trial for espionage and I’d go to prison for several years. I had just an hour to think about it.
“It was a horrible dilemma. They knew as well as I did we were nowhere near Iran’s waters. If I did it I feared everyone in Britain would hate me. But I knew it was my one chance of fulfilling a promise to Molly that I’d be home for her birthday on May 8.”
ARTHUR was singled out for torment after his captors learned he was a navigator – and mistakenly thought that meant he was in charge of his boat.
The guards, who taunted him for his youth and called him Mr Bean after the bungling comic character, put him in plastic handcuffs and blindfolded him – then slapped him around.
He said: “It was beyond terrifying. They seemed to take particular pleasure in mocking me for being young.
“They tried to persuade me that I was responsible for all that was happening to us because I was the boat’s navigator – but I knew we had been inside Iraqi waters when we were seized.
“They kept asking me if I supported the war in Iraq and I kept answering that I was just a serviceman doing my job.
“A guard kept flicking my neck with his index finger and thumb. I thought the worst. We’ve all seen the videos.”
He added: “I was frozen in terror and just stared into the darkness of my blindfold, I could feel the emotion welling up inside me. But I wasn’t going to let them see me cry.” Once back in his cell, the emotion finally came flooding out. Arthur said: “To be honest I cried and cried like a baby.
“I ended up falling asleep on my cell floor. I think I blacked out. That night I slept like a log as I was exhausted from the pressure and emotionally drained and sapped of energy.”
Arthur said that coping with the solitary confinement was by far his biggest challenge during the 13-day ordeal.
He added: “There was no noise. I couldn’t hear a thing and I was in this cell on my own for up to three days at a time.”
One of his greatest torments was not knowing what had happened to his colleagues. He said: “Were they alive? Were they dead? I just didn’t know.
“I was absolutely exhausted by the pressure – so much I could barely move. There were times when I feared being raped or killed.”
Arthur said his interrogators used the Mr Bean jibe in an effort to break down his confidence during questioning. He said: “All I could make out in their language were the words ‘Mr Bean’. They were laughing at me . . . making he feel about 3ins tall.
“I asked the interpreter what was going on and he said ‘They think you look like Mr Bean’. They were trying to make me feel like a fool, hoping that I would give away secrets to prove that I wasn’t.”
Arthur told how the nightmare began as he and the six other sailors and seven Royal Marines were on a run-of-the-mill anti-smuggling patrol in the Gulf.
He and his colleagues had taken two boats to inspect an Iraqi vessel that was suspected of smuggling cars.
As they circled the ship, Arthur checked his navigational system. He said: “We were a mile and a half inside Iraq and the suspect boat was anchored. There is no way were we drifting.”
As the team searched the ship they suddenly heard someone shout that a number of Iranian boats were approaching at speed. Arthur, from Plymouth, said: “The boats drew alongside and I thought ‘Oh no – we’ve had it.’
“Captain Air told us to put our weapons down and co-operate. I think he saved our lives that day.
“We were boarded by very aggressive Iranian soldiers. One of them was huge and kept staring threateningly at me.
“They ripped off our communications pieces and grabbed our weapons.”
Arthur told how Faye tried to hide the fact she was a woman by not responding when the heavily armed Revolutionary Guardsmen ordered the British team to remove their helmets.
But when she was finally forced to take it off the Iranians became very excited to discover one of the captives was female.
Arthur added: “When the guard saw her face, his jaw dropped so far it practically touched the bottom of the boat. He just stared and pointed at her chanting ‘Woman, woman, woman, woman’!”
FAYE: I FEARED THEY MAY RAPE ME, KILL ME.. AND WERE MAKING ME A COFFIN
FAYE actually had to teach the clueless Iranians how to power and steer the boat. Arthur said: “We took about 20 minutes to cross over into Iranian waters.
“We were standing at the front of the boat with our hands on our heads, guns pointed at us.
“They were moving us along slowly when an Iranian guy fell in the water. He went straight in. We all just smiled.”
But things took a sinister turn when the Iranians suddenly blindfolded the 15 captives.
Arthur added: “I said aloud ‘Oh sh*t, we’re dead.’
“But Marine Adam Sperry said to me ‘Don’t worry mate – we’ll be all right’. He was a good bloke”
Within hours Arthur and his colleagues were being flown to the Iranian capital Tehran for further interrogation. For Arthur, it was the first time he had been in a plane. He said: “At the time I feared it could possibly be my last journey.
“At one point Lieutenant Felix Carman asked them to loosen the plasticuffs as they were agonising but they came over and tightened his. But he still made us laugh. When we landed Felix shouted at us ‘Did anyone catch the in-flight movie?’ It was stuff like that that kept us going.”
Arthur told of a bizarre incident in which the guards gently caressed Felix’s hair as the 15 captives sat blindfolded in a row – then doused him with sweet-smelling aftershave.
He said: “We couldn’t see what was going on but could hear the guards marching up and down behind us.
FELIX then asked if one of us was stroking his hair and we all said No. He was then sprayed with aftershave. He let out a really nervous laugh. We all thought he was about to be sexually abused.”
Arthur was the first of the captives to discover they were to be released.
All 15 Royal Navy personnel had been marched into a government hall in Tehran to hear a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But Arthur had to visit the toilet halfway through and returned to be told by a guard: “You’re about to be released by the President – tell your friends to clap.”
He passed the message on when he retook his seat just in time to hear the news.
The freed hostages were then ordered to meet the President and shake his hand in gratitude.
Arthur added: “At the time, I felt so relieved I didn’t mind. Now I realise I was being used.”