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Iran says the British tanker is free after two months in jail



A British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in July may now leave, the Iranian government said Monday, more than a month after the British authorities released an Iranian tanker detained outside Gibraltar.

A rare indication of relaxation at a time when Iran was in an escalation cycle of confrontation with its neighbors on the Persian Gulf and the United States.

Iran had accused the British flagged tanker Stena Impero of violating maritime regulations in the Strait of Hormuz, but the seizure on 19 July was widely regarded as retaliation for the imprisonment of the Iranian tanker.

The Stena Impero lawsuit is closed and Iran has decided not to prosecute alleged violations by Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiyee said at a press conference that Iranian and Western news agencies were present.

The ship had not left the Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran, until noon, and it was expected. It is not clear how fast it would set sail. Erik Hanell, CEO of the shipping company Stena Bulk, told the Swedish television station SVT that he hopes it will only take hours.

Iran arrested the 23-man crew together with the ship. Seven of them were released earlier this month, but the others remained aboard.


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