Gibraltar rejects U.S. demand to detain Iranian oil tanker

AFP-JIJI, Reuters

Gibraltar on Sunday rejected a U.S. demand to seize an Iranian oil tanker at the center of a diplomatic dispute as it prepared to leave the British overseas territory after weeks of detention.

Gilbraltar’s government said it could not seek a court order to detain the ship because U.S. sanctions against Iran were not applicable in the European Union.

A Gibraltar judge had ordered the Grace 1 tanker released, but the U.S. filed a request to detain the ship after alleging it was involved in supporting illicit shipments to Syria by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, listed as a terrorist group by Washington.

The tanker raised an Iranian flag and has had a new name painted on its side, images of the stationary vessel, filmed off Gibraltar on Sunday, showed.

Video footage and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing the new name of Adrian Darya-1 painted in white on its hull. Its previous name, Grace 1, had been painted over. The vessel’s anchor was still down.

The Grace 1 had originally flown the Panamian flag but Panama’s Maritime Authority said in July that the vessel had been de-listed.

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