Iranian state television, on Wednesday, showed new video footage of the U.S. Navy crew members Iran had detained overnight last month, including a segment that appeared to show one sailor in tears, according to a number of social media reports.
The footage, which was aired on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN), looks to have been shot during the 16 hours in January that 10 American sailors were held by Iranian authorities. The sailors had been detained after two small U.S. Navy vessels apparently strayed into Iranian waters.
While the incident was widely seen as a potential flash point between Iran and world powers, swift diplomatic work helped contain the incident, and the sailors were freed, unharmed, the next day. The new footage, however, suggests that the experience was still stressful for the Navy crew members.
Iranian hardliners had celebrated the capture of the U.S. sailors. Hossein Salami, a senior commander in the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (ICRG), had said last month that the sailors had "started crying" after their arrest, though they had been treated with "kindness" by their captors.
Shortly after the release of the sailors, Iranian state television aired an apology from one crew member. "The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here," the unnamed crew member said. "We thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance."
Last year, a long awaited nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers was reached, allowing many international sanctions on Iran to be lifted. Polls suggest that the deal has proven popular among the Iranian general public, yet many analysts say an upcoming election for the Iranian parliament and a separate body known as the Assembly of Experts could prove a victory for hardliners who oppose the deal.
Rasool Nafisi, an expert on Iranian affair at Strayer University, says that the release of the video appeared to serve "a triple pronged purpose," not only reminding Iranians of their country's military dominance in the Gulf region and serving as a warning to regional rival Saudi Arabia, but also acting as an "affront to the [Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's] administration as it tries to create a more friendly relations with the world."