The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement on Monday that the oil tanker “Stena Impero” and its crew are still being held illegally in Iran, calling on Tehran to release them immediately.
On the other hand, the Iranian ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, wrote on Twitter, on Monday, that “The British flagged tanker “Stena Impero”, pursuant to the completion of the judicial and legal process, is now free to leave”.
For his part, the Iranian government’s official spokesman, Ali Rubaie said, earlier on Monday, that Tehran has released the British oil tanker “Stena Impero”, which was detained more than two months ago.
“The legal procedures have been completed and accordingly, the conditions for the release of the oil tanker have been completed and it can sail,” Rubaie said in a press conference.
The semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday quoted the director general of ports and maritime navigation in the province of Hormozgan, Murad Afifi Bor, as saying that “after the verdict to end the detention of the British tanker, Stena Impero, this oil tanker will begin after 65 days, the movement of the port”.
Afifi Bor also said that the process of Stena Impero’s exit from the Iranian territorial waters has begun, but the legal case against the oil tanker is still open, and the results of the case will soon be announced.
Eric Hanel, chief executive of the Swedish-owned British-flagged oil tanker, Stena Impero, which has been detained by Tehran since July 19, said on Sunday to Swedish television: “We received information on Sunday morning that they would release the Stena Impero apparently within hours and we understand that a political decision was made to release it”.
While Tehran claim that the seizure came after the oil tanker was involved in a collision with a fishing vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, the incident was considered as a retaliation to the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker ‘Grace 1’ by UK Royal Marines near Gibraltar two weeks earlier over suspected breach of EU sanctions earlier in July, further escalating diplomatic tensions in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, a major shipping line for world’s oil supply.
It’s noteworthy that the region’s authorities released the Iranian oil tanker in August, and on September 4, Tehran released seven of Stena Impero’s 23 crew members.