9 Indians Held From Detained Fuel Smuggling Ship Released

Iran has released nine out of 12 Indians who were on board the ship MT Riah that was detained on a charge of fuel smuggling in early July, official Indian sources said on Thursday.
However, 21 Indians are still in detention in Iran—three from MT Riah and 18 from British oil tanker Stena Impero that was seized last week by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in the Strait of Hormuz for violation of international maritime rules, India Today reported.
According to an ISNA report, the Indian Embassy in Tehran on Thursday was granted consular access to the 18 Indians who were on board the Stena Impero.
Also, 24 Indian crew members, who were on board shipping vessel Grace 1, which was detained by Gibraltar police authorities, are under detention.
The boats have been seized amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the US since Washington began reimposing sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year.
Indian officials have met the 24 Indian crew members who were on board shipping vessel Grace 1 and assured them that the government will take measures to ensure their release and repatriation, India’s External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.
Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was seized off the Spanish coast earlier this month by British marines and Gibraltar police on the allegation that the vessel was heading to Syria in violation of the European Union’s sanctions on the Arab country.
A team of the Indian High Commission in London met the Indian crew and staff on board VLCC Grace 1 on Wednesday, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said.
"Crew's morale is high. Assured all assistance for early release. HCI London will facilitate necessary travel document and related arrangements," the minister tweeted.
MEA Spokesman Raveesh Kumar, at a media briefing, said India had sought consular access that was granted on Wednesday and a three-member team visited and met all the 24 crew members.
"What we saw was that the crew members were very calm, very composed and there was no sense of panic. They had been in regular touch with their family members. We had assured them that the government of India will undertake all the necessary steps to ensure their early release and repatriation," Kumar said.
Giving an update on 18 Indians on board the British oil tanker Stena Impero that was seized by IRGC, Muraleedharan said the embassy in Tehran has got consular access to the Indians.
All of them are fine, the minister said, stressing that India will continue to push for their early release.


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