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Seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 released despite US efforts

Mehr News Agency –  Gibraltar’s Supreme Court on Thursday approved the immediate release of Grace 1, an Iranian oil tanker seized off the country’s coast last month, despite eleventh-hour efforts by the United States to block it.

Charles Gomez, a lawyer who was present during the hearing, said the order for the arrest of the Grace 1 tanker was no longer valid. He added that the tanker must be released immediately. The Gibraltar Chief Minister issued a directive that the vessel is no longer covered by EU sanctions, therefore there is no reason for the ship to be detained, Gomez said.

The Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was seized by UK marines near the Strait of Gibraltar on 4 July over alleged violation of EU sanctions, in what Tehran described as an act of piracy. The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, “just hours before the Gibraltar Government was poised to release it”, Sputnik news agency reported.

The decision was postponed to 4 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT), the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper specified. The captain and three officers of the Grace 1 have been released from arrest, the Gibraltar Government has confirmed in response to Chronicle questions.

The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar, just hours before the Gibraltar Government was poised to release it. Commenting on the issue, a source in the Gibraltar government told that a captain and three crew members of the Iranian tanker have already been released.

Tehran maintains that the supertanker was not bound for Syria and its seizure has taken place at the behest of the US. Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has summoned the British envoy to Tehran several times in protest at the UK navy’s move. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned London that it will definitely pay the price for the illegal seizure of Grace 1 in international waters.

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