Gibraltar court OKs government request to continue detaining Iran tanker


The Gibraltar government has successfully renewed the detention of an Iranian supertanker for another 30 days, under suspicion that it violated European Union sanctions.

In a statement on Friday, the day that the detention limitation would have collapsed, Gibraltar’s government announced that that the Supreme Court had approved the extension as it continues to investigate the Panama-flagged Grace 1. The vessel was seized earlier this month by British Royal Marines in waters claimed by Gibraltar, located on the southern tip of Spain, under suspicion that it was carrying crude oil intended for Syria.

The E.U. has stringent sanctions on Syrian leader Bashar Assad as the country’s protracted civil war continues to claim civilian lives.

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The vessel’s captain, chief officer, and two second mates – all Indian citizens– remain in the custody of the British overseas territory as the investigation continues, according to AFP.

Earlier this week, U.K’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter that he had a “constructive call” with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, and ensured him that the tanker – which was carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil –  will be released if the U.K concludes that it was not Syria bound.

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The tanker’s apprehension has infuriated Tehran, who have accused the British of engaging in “piracy.”

A view of the Grace 1 supertanker near a Royal Marine patrol vessel in the British territory of Gibraltar, Thursday, July 4, 2019. Spain's acting foreign minister says a tanker stopped off Gibraltar and suspected of taking oil to Syria was intercepted by British authorities after a request from the United States. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

A view of the Grace 1 supertanker near a Royal Marine patrol vessel in the British territory of Gibraltar, Thursday, July 4, 2019. Spain’s acting foreign minister says a tanker stopped off Gibraltar and suspected of taking oil to Syria was intercepted by British authorities after a request from the United States. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

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Gibraltar’s court ruling, which can be extended for up to 90 days, comes amid another uptick in regional tensions after Washington announced on Thursday that it had shot down an Iranian drone that it believed threatened a U.S. naval vessel at the opening of the Strait to Hormuz.

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Iran has vehemently denied it lost a drone, with some officials suggesting the U.S. may have destroyed its own drone.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 



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