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Navy officer who apologized to Iranian captors appeals reprimand

The leader of two U.S. boat crews who appeared to apologize to his captors for entering Iranian waters in January whose capture in Iranian waters set off an international incident in January is appealing his non-judicial punishment issued last week.

The fate of Lt. David Nartker is now with Adm. Scott Swift, head of U.S. Pacific Fleet. Nartker , who is appeared to apologize on video to his Iranian captors, was disciplined last week by Navy Expeditionary Combat Command head Rear Adm. Frank Morneau, according to two officials familiar with the proceeding.

The investigation found the lieutenant spoke to the Iranian film crew as part of a condition of release, which the investigator ruled a violation of the code of conduct.

"It was a mistake," the lieutenant said in the propaganda video. "That was our fault. And we apologize for our mistake."

A spokesperson for NECC declined to comment specifically on the case but said that sailors have the right to appeal NJP to a higher authority.

"Following NJP proceedings, members may appeal the findings to a higher authority," said Lt. Cmdr. Jen Cragg in an email. "The appeal authority may set aside the punishment, decrease its severity, or deny the appeal, but may not increase the severity of the punishment.

"To comment any further on an ongoing process would be inappropriate."

Nartker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Nartker is one of seven officers, including his commanding officer, executive officer and commodore, who have been were disciplined in the wake of the debacle, which threatened to derail the Iran nuclear deal and overshadowed President Obama's last State of the Union address. 

Last week, Nartker and three other officers were taken to admiral's mast. Two were found guilty of disobeying orders and dereliction of duty and issued letters of reprimand, another officer was found not guilty. Two sailors were also found guilty of dereliction of duty and were similarly given letters of reprimand.

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