Iran releases part of crew from British-flagged tanker it seized
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Iran releases part of crew from British-flagged tanker it seized

Swedish owners of vessel say seven mariners set free, another 16 still held by Iranians along with Stena Impero ship

The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized by the Iran's Revolutionary Guard is photographed in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, July 20, 2019. (Tasnim News Agency/via AP)
The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized by the Iran's Revolutionary Guard is photographed in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, July 20, 2019. (Tasnim News Agency/via AP)

Iran has released seven crew members from detained British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero and the mariners have been flown out of Iran, the vessel’s owners said Thursday.

Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell made the announcement in a statement.

The Swedish company owns the tanker, which had a total crew of 23. The remaining 16 crew members are to stay on board the vessel.

There was no immediate comment from Iranian officials, nor any acknowledgement in state-run media.

It came a day after the Swedish foreign ministry said the crew were being set free.

Iranian forces seized control of the British-flagged Stena Impero on July 19 as it was navigating through an international passage in the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance of the Gulf.

Tehran denied the seizure was a tit-for-tat move after British commandos seized an Iranian oil tanker on July 4 as it passed through Gibraltar’s waters, under suspicion it was breaking EU sanctions on oil deliveries to Syria.

The ship has been held offshore near Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas.

Iranian officials have given varying reasons for its seizure and continued detention.

Some, such as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said it was for breaching maritime regulations.

It has also been claimed that its transponder was turned off, it was going the wrong way along a shipping channel or had collided with an unidentified fishing vessel.

The Iranian oil tanker seized by British commandos, the Adrian Darya 1 (formerly the Grace 1), was ordered released by Gibraltar on August 15 and was last registered off the coast of Lebanon and Syria on Monday.

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