Iran frees 7 crew members of seized British tanker

September 4, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran has released seven crew members of British oil tanker Stena Impero detained in July in the Persian Gulf for violating international maritime law.

Announcing their release on Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the decision to release some members of the crew aboard the UK ship was taken on humanitarian grounds.

The sailors - five Indians, one Latvian and one Russian - had already left the Stena Impero, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi told the national television.

He added, “We have no problem with the crew and captain of the ship. The vessel was impounded for committing a violation and, naturally, when a ship is seized, its crew members come under arrest likewise.”

However, following investigations into the consular and licensure status of every single crew member, some of them were allowed to exit the ship and return to their daily lives, Mousavi explained.

The 30,000-ton UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker was seized by Iranian naval forces on July 19, when it ignored distress call as it collided with a fishing boat on its route.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said at that time that the ship had also used a wrong path to enter the Strait of Hormuz.  

The Stena Impero was brought to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where it remains at anchor.

Its Swedish operator, Stena Bulk, said last month it had been able to maintain limited communication with the crew and that they remained in good health "considering the circumstances".

The seizure of the British tanker came amid a diplomatic row between Tehran and London, which had erupted earlier in July after British Royal Marines in Gibraltar illegally seized an Iranian oil tanker. That ship was later released.

SP/PA

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