A bizarre end indeed. From the Daily Mail:
The sailors will leave Tehran early Thursday and arrive at London’s Heathrow airport around 1200 GMT, said Robin Air, father of Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air. Families will be reunited with the crew later Thursday at a military base, he said.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiled as he talked through an interpreter to several of the men held captive for 13 days in the capital Tehran. One of them was heard to say to him: “Thanks for releasing us. I wish you success.”
The men were dressed in suits and Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only woman in the 15-strong patrol of marines and sailors, wore a blue headscarf and pink shirt but it was not thought she had shaken hands with the president.
In a reference to Mrs Turney, Mr Ahmadinejad said: “How can you justify seeing a mother away from her home, her children. Why don’t they respect the values of families in the West?”
Mr Ahmadinejad joked when he met one of them, saying: “How are you? So you came on a mandatory holiday?”
It was a bizarre end to a tense international stand-off which began when the Navy personnel were seized at gunpoint by Revolutionary Guards on the Shatt al Arab waterway. The meeting was clearly staged for the Iranian media but there was no mistaking the relief of the Britons.
Mr Ahmadinejad said he had pardoned them as an Easter present for the British people and to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain bore the Iranian people “no ill will” and stressed the release of the Navy personnel came as “a profound relief”.