Iran to release 7 crew members of detained British-flagged tanker - spokesman

Iran will free 7 crew members of detained UK tanker Stena Impero

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That ship, 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.

Iran will release seven crew members of the detained British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, according to the vessel's owners. However, the circumstances surrounding the initial seizure of the tanker remain unclear.

"Their ordeal may soon be over, and they may return to their families, however, we cautiously await official confirmation of their release date", Hannell said, adding the announcement was "a positive step on the way to the release of all the remaining crew, which has always been our primary concern and focus". However, ensuring that all 23 crew members make it safely home remains his priority.

Indian Foreign Ministry officials have been in contact with the Iranian Foreign Ministry since the ship's detainment in July to facilitate the release of 18 Indian crews of Stena Impero.

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The British-flagged tanker has a total crew of 23 on board.

As for the tanker itself, he said that a court in the port city of Bandar Abbas would decide on its fate.

The seizure of the Iranian tanker had exacerbated tensions between Tehran and the West since the United States past year pulled out of an worldwide agreement curbing Iran's nuclear program and re-imposed economic sanctions.

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

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The Iranian government has denied that the commandeering of the tanker came as an act of retribution for the seizure of Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 on July 4 as it passed by Gibraltar, under suspicion that it was breaching European Union sanctions on oil distribution to Syria.

Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping trade association, said Iran had to immediately release the remaining mariners once the seven crew had been freed.

But the owners say they have not received confirmation of a release date directly from the Iranian authorities.

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