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Politics

Pressured by Iran, Greece Reportedly Frees Oil Tanker US Wanted Seized

ΑΤΗΕΝS – After a Greek court reversed an order that an Iranian tanker detained after the United States wanted it held so that oil could be removed under sanctions, the vessel has reportedly been released.

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation said the ship, first called Pegas but renamed Lana, that was stopped in April has been freed by Greece, according to the country’s semi-official Mehr news agency.

“The Greek government finally issued an order and we are now witnessing the lifting of the ship’s seizure and the return of its cargo to its owner,” the PMO told Mehr, said Al Jazeera but Greece’s government didn’t confirm it.

The ship reported an engine problem as it was saiid headed to the southern Peloponnese Peninsula to offload its cargo onto another tanker but rough seas forced it to moor just off Karystos, on the island of Evia, where it was seized.

Its alleged release comes after a Greek court overturned an earlier ruling last week that allowed the confiscation by the United States of part of the tanker’s Iranian oil cargo, the news site said.

Greece’s New Democracy government had said it was being held under European Union sanctions imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and that the US had wanted the oil taken off.

The tanker was initially Russian-flagged and had 19 Russian crew members on board at the time it was seized and was among five vessels designated by the US for sanctions against Promsvyazbank, a bank viewed critical to Russia’s defense sector.

The tanker, which was reportedly carrying 115,000 tons of Iranian oil when it was seized, has been flying the Iranian flag since May 1. Iran and Russia face separate US and EU sanctions.

After it was taken an angry response from Iran led to two Greek tankers being seized and still held, no word on whether they would now be released, after Iran warned more Greek vessels would be seized in retaliatory moves.

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