The day's other major event, covered by reporters at all three networks, was the ceremony held in Iran by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to pardon and release the 15 captive Royal Navy sailors and marines. It was a surprise Easter gift from the Islamic Republic to the people of Britain.
None of the networks had a correspondent in Teheran so all three filed from London. NBC's Jim Maceda called it a "bombshell" announcement after "what looked like a vintage press conference" and CBS' Elizabeth Palmer saw Ahmadinejad "basking in his role as liberator" as he "milked today's event for all it was worth." When Teheran claimed that London had promised not to enter its territorial waters, "Britain insists it gave nothing in exchange," ABC's Jim Sciutto (subscription required) stated. "Prime Minister Tony Blair conspicuously did not thank the Iranian government."
From the Pentagon, CBS' David Martin followed up by consulting experts on winners and losers from the affair. British naval operations received low marks for leaving its search party vulnerable, unprotected by helicopter cover, at the time of the initial arrest. Iran's diplomats received higher marks: allowing such an unexpected release may perhaps signal similar flexibility in negotiations over its nuclear program, Judith Yaphe, a former CIA analyst, suggested.
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