Seven Indian crew members from British-flagged tanker seized by Iran to be released

STOCKHOLM: The owner of the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker held in the Persian Gulf by Iran says he was told by the Iranian authorities that seven of the 23-member crew will be released.

Erik Hanell, CEO of the Swedish shipping group Stena Bulk that owns the ship, says it wasn’t immediately clear when they would be freed.

His confirmation came shortly after Iran’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that seven crew members, all of whom are Indians, would be freed.

Hanell said, “Their ordeal may soon be over, and they may return to their families, however, we cautiously await official confirmation of their release date.” He said it was “a positive step on the way to the release of all the remaining crew, which has always been our primary concern and focus.” The remaining 16 crew members are to stay on board the vessel.

Earlier, Iran’s foreign ministry said the country will release seven crew members of the seized British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker held in the Persian Gulf.

Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV on Wednesday that judicial procedure on the oil tanker is ongoing and that under Iran’s “humane policy,” the captain of the ship has been asked to let some of the crew members return to their country.

Mousavi said the captain decided seven crew members who are Indian nationals would be the ones to leave.

Iran seized the tanker on July, saying it violated Iranian laws, after authorities in the British territory of Gibraltar seized an Iranian tanker said to be carrying fuel to Syria in violation of EU sanctions on oil sales to the government in Damascus.

The Iranian vessel was released earlier this month.