"the history of barbarism"
Suppose we told the other side of the story. It would go something like this.
"We watched them interfere with shipping. This concerned us. Their leaders were issuing threats. Troop numbers are high in the region. Warships are massing in what they term "military exercises".
"We were careful to avoid casualties. We let them see they were outnumbered and that we were well-armed. No-one was hurt and we took them into custody. Naturally we took away their arms. At first we restrained them. We didn't want anyone to be hurt.
"We had to take precautions to safeguard military secrets. This is normal. We gave the prisoners blindfolds and let them put them on. Our soldiers were armed of course. Soldiers are accustomed to bear arms.
"As is normal, we segregate the sexes in custody. Interrogation followed normal techniques - nothing violent or humiliating . (We are not barbarians.) We interviewed prisoners separately and tried to get at the truth. We cautioned them and pointed out the risk of trial and imprisonment. We are sorry if sometimes guards moved the prisoners a little roughly; it is hard when they do not speak the same language though we tried to have an interpreter ready at all time.
"The prisoners were treated with respect. They were provided with fresh clothing and bedding. They had separate cells. Food and drink were provided. There were blankets to ensure that they were warm. After a few days we improved their conditions. They were allowed to associate with one another.
"When we discovered that the woman was a mother, we allowed her to write home. We invited television cameras to film the prisoners so that their families could see they were well.
"The prisoners confessed. Some of our people called for their trial and execution. We paid no attention to these extremists but showed mercy. Without demanding anything in return, we freed the prisoners and sent them home with gifts.
"Now they complain of their treatment. They may be obeying orders. They are soldiers; they do what their superiors command. They may tell lies for money. But we treated them well. It is your allies who abuse prisoners. We have seen the pictures of Abu Ghraib and we know enough of what happens in Guantanamo.
"Why do you say we are the hostage-takers? Why do you call us the barbarians?"
Seven of the fifteen freed prisoners attended the press conference to condemn their treatment in Iran. They didn't all speak. They had previously thanked President Ahmadinejad and said they were well-treated in Iran.
Now the Ministry of Defence is encouraging the freed prisoners to sell their stories. This sounds like chequebook journalism. Max Clifford sees problems in this. So does Craig Murray. So do I.