TEHRAN (AFP) – The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which had been held off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas for more than two months, set sail yesterday, the provincial maritime organisation said.
The ship’s seizure was widely seen as a tit-for-tat move after authorities in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar detained an Iranian tanker on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of European Union (EU) sanctions.
Tehran repeatedly denied the cases were related but a Gibraltar court last month ordered the Iranian tanker’s release despite an 11th-hour United States (US) legal bid to keep it in detention.
“The Stena Impero started sailing from the mooring towards the Persian Gulf’s international waters as of 9am today,” Hormozgan province’s maritime organisation said on its website.
“Despite the vessel’s clearance, its legal case is still open in Iran’s courts,” the organisation added.
The Swedish-owned tanker’s captain and crew have “given a written, official statement that they have no claims”.
Iran’s state television website posted footage of the tanker discharging ballast water and said it was headed for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).