Iran says crew of seized Greek ships not under arrest

May 29, 2022 - 21:32

TEHRAN – Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) has said in a statement that the crew members of two Greek ships seized by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are not under arrest.

“All the crew members of the two Greek ships are safe and in good health. And while they are still aboard the ships, they will be protected and cared for and provided with any necessary services in accordance with international law,” the PMO said in a statement on Sunday. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) of 2006, will abide by its commitments to all sailors including those considered guests.”

Iran has seized two Greek-flagged oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in a tit-for-tat move after Greece detained an Iranian-flagged oil tanker and transferred its cargo to the United States.

Nearly a month ago, Greece seized an Iranian-flagged oil tanker off its coast and then transferred its cargo to the United States. Reuters reported Thursday that the United States has confiscated Iranian oil held on a Russian-operated ship near Greece and will send the cargo to the United States aboard another vessel.

The Iranian-flagged ship, the Pegas, was among five vessels designated by Washington on Feb. 22 - two days before the start of the war in Ukraine for sanctions against Promsvyazbank, a bank viewed as critical to Russia's defense sector, according to Reuters.

In response, the media office of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) succinctly announced Friday that the IRGC navy forces had detained two Greek oil tankers for violation of law in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian media said the seizure took place in response to the Greek move in detaining the Iranian oil tanker. Tasnim said the IRGC also issued warnings to other Greek ships sailing in the Persian Gulf. 

“There are still 17 Greek ships sailing in the Persian Gulf which will be possibly detained by the IRGC if Greece continues its mischief,” Tasnim warned.

Even though it made the first move, Greece accused Iran of “piracy” following the seizure of its ships. 

“These actions are tantamount to acts of piracy,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement, warning Greek citizens to avoid traveling to Iran.

The PMO said the Greek ships were detained for “maritime infractions” and legal action will follow after reviewing relevant evidence. 

Earlier, the maritime authority said, “Two Greek ships have been detained due to maritime violations, and the issue is being investigated based on evidence and documents. Upon thorough investigation, the necessary legal action will be taken.”

It added, “The Ports and Maritime Organization denies the detention of the crew of these two Greek tankers. All the crews of both Greek ships are in perfect health onboard the ships. they are protected and treated in accordance with international law while all necessary services are provided to them. The Ports and Maritime Organization also emphasizes that The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a party to the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention, is fulfilling its obligations to all seafarers, including seafarers who are considered guests in Iranian waters.” 

The PMO also protested the seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker MT Lana at the port of Karistos off the coast of Greece in a letter to the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  “On 21 May 2022, the tanker vessel MT Lana, IMO No. 9256860, operating under the Iranian Flag, was being towed with no propulsion, off the coasts of Greece when they faced bad weather, and was forced to seek a place of safety at the Greek Port of Karystos, in order to ensure safety and resolve technical problems. The Port Authority, however, has proceeded to arrest the cargo of the tanker, owned by Iran, and plans to discharge the cargo by early 24 May 2022,” it said in the letter. 


Leave a Comment

2 + 0 =