19 Aug 2019
Newly released U.S. court documents show the United States issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian tanker that British Royal Marines had seized last month in Gibraltar, citing evidence that it was transporting oil to Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The oil tanker Grace 1, the more than 2 million barrels of oil it carries and $995,000 are subject to forfeiture based on a complaint by the U.S. government, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said in a news release on Friday.
The tanker was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran.
In a court document obtained by Reuters, it said there was evidence that showed that the tanker was scheduled to arrive in Syria in early July.
“Charts and electronic equipment recovered from onboard the Grace 1, WhatsApp messages recovered from crewmembers’ mobile devices, and crewmembers’ statements revealed that the Grace 1 was destined for Port Banias, Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions,” the document said.
Iran has repeatedly denied that tanker’s destination was Syria.
“As we said earlier … Syria was not its destination and we have upheld the same … and reiterated that it was nobody’s business even if it was Syria,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Friday.
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