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Swedish oil tanker released by Iran reaches international waters

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Swedish oil tanker released by Iran reaches international waters
Swedish-owned oil tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran in July. Photo: Hasan Shirvani/Mizan News Agency via AP
09:04 CEST+02:00
A Swedish-owned oil tanker held by Iran for over two months has left port and reached international waters.

"She reached international waters about 15 minutes ago," Erik Hanell, CEO of Stena Bulk, the company that owns the vessel, told AFP at noon on Friday, adding that the British-flagged ship was heading for Dubai.

On Wednesday, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said the lifting of the seizure was finalized in a procedure coordinated by the foreign ministry, Iran's judiciary and its port and maritime authorities.

After the ship had left Iran and reached international waters on Friday Hanell said it was "obviously a relief" and added that the priority now was the crew.

"When we reach Dubai we will firstly take care of the crew and then try and get the ship in operational order again," he told AFP.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had surrounded the vessel with attack boats before rappelling onto the deck of the tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19th.

It was impounded at Bandar Abbas port for allegedly failing to respond to distress calls and turning off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

Seven of its 23 crew members were released on September 4th.

The seizure was widely seen as a tit-for-tat move after the British overseas territory of Gibraltar detained an Iranian tanker earlier in July on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

A Gibraltar court ordered the Iranian tanker's release on August 15th despite an 11th-hour US legal bid to keep it in detention.

Tehran has repeatedly denied the two cases are related.

 
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