UK media reported that the British territory’s administrators would not be renewing the order to detain the Panamanian-flagged tanker, which was boarded by Royal Marines and placed under detention in early July amid claims that it was smuggling Iranian crude oil to a refinery in Syria, in contravention of EU sanctions.
Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad has confirmed that the Grace 1 Iranian-oil-laden tanker has been released from custody by Gibraltar authorities, tweeting that the ship was released and will soon leave the Gibraltar region.
Earlier Thursday, amid reports of the commercial vessel’s imminent release, the US launched an appeal to take control over the vessle “on a number of allegations,” which the Gibraltar government promised to consider.
However, Gibraltar Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Dudley denied claims of a US application to take over the detention of the vessel. “That’s not before me,” he was quoted as saying. “There are no applications in relation to the US letters of request [for mutual legal assistance].”
Following the release, Gibraltar authorities published an explanation of why the Grace 1 was released, saying the original July 4 detention was made on the basis of ‘solid evidence’ that the vessel was headed for Syria, and that it had received ‘formal written assurances’ from the Iranian government that the tanker would not unload its oil in Syria. Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the detention order had been lifted on that basis.