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Iran plans book, CD on Britons' detention

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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran plans to release a book and CD detailing the arrest and detention of 15 British sailors and marines whom Tehran blames for illegally crossing into Iranian waters, an Iranian military spokesman said.

The book and compact disc are "being prepared and will soon be distributed," Gen. Ali-Reza Afshar said in a written statement.

The British personnel were seized on March 23 while patrolling the northern Persian Gulf for smugglers. They were granted amnesty last Thursday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said they were freed as an Easter gift and in respect for the recent anniversary of the Prophet Muhammed's birth.

While in custody, some of the captives confessed on video to straying into Iranian territorial waters. They recanted those confessions once they returned to Britain on Thursday.

In an interview published Monday, the only woman among the detained crew told Britain's Sun tabloid that she feared she was being measured for a coffin while in detention, according to Reuters. (Full story)

Afshar, who is in charge of cultural affairs for Iran's armed forces, blamed Britain for "forcing the British sailors to deny their own statements while in detention."

"The childish British play-acting after the release of the sailors, instead of thanking Iran for its generous and kindly behavior, once again demonstrated the British aggressive nature and their lack of respect for international conventions," the Iranian general said.

Three days after their release, Iran released more video of the Britons smiling and playing games during their detention.

Iran's al-Alam network said the video, which aired Sunday, showed they were held "in comfort" and enjoyed "complete freedom" during their captivity. (Watch Iranian video showing the British group in captivity Video)

Britain's navy has been criticized for initially lifting its restrictions to allow the sailors and marines to get paid for public appearances, book deals or interviews with news outlets. (Watch disgust grow over the decision allowing them to sell their stories Video)

The Royal Navy argued that it was done to make sure the service "had sight of what they were going to say."

"Quite aside from the 'human interest story' surrounding these individuals, there are also sensitive strategic issues in play," the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a written statement.

"It was clear that the stories they had to tell were likely to have emerged via family and friends regardless of any decision the Navy took."

After the criticism, the MoD reversed the decision Monday, but some of the military personnel had already agreed to deals.

An MoD spokesman said the policy was under review. The personnel can still talk to the media, but cannot accept payment, except for payments already made or promised.

The British military usually keeps a tight rein on interviews with its personnel, and the decision rankled some who said the ex-captives were getting special treatment when others' tales of heroism may never be told.

"It does compare very badly with the six soldiers who were killed in Iraq this week, against the Royal Marines who are fighting a serious battle in Helmand province in Afghanistan," said retired army Col. Bob Stewart. (Watch a profile of one of them, Prince William's friend Video)

"And quite frankly, a vast part of the British armed forces think it's not fair," the former commander of British peacekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina said.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.

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Some of the freed British sailors and marines check their gifts from Iran at the airport in Tehran.


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