Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece towed to Piraeus port


An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Greece in April, part of whose cargo was confiscated by the United States, was being towed to the port of Piraeus on Saturday, Greek coast guard officials said, after authorities Greeks approved his release.

For more than two months, the Lana, flying the Iranian flag, has been anchored off the Greek island of Euboea in a diplomatic stalemate that has strained Athens’ relations with Tehran amid growing tensions between Iran and United States.

“He left Karystos at 06:30 (0330 GMT) and is expected to reach Piraeus around 22:00,” an official said.

In April, Greek authorities seized the Lana and its cargo of oil with 19 Russian crew members on board near the coast of Euboea, due to sanctions following legal action by the United States.

That decision was overturned on June 10 due to ownership complications, but until last week the vessel was held by another company for debts owed for towing services.

La Lana, who has engine problems, was officially released after the amount owed was paid, court sources told Reuters.

Part of the ship’s Iranian oil cargo had already been transferred to another vessel, Ice Energy, which was leased by the United States and is docked at the port of Piraeus.

Following an appeal from an Iranian company on June 7, a Greek court overturned the court order that authorized the confiscation of the cargo on behalf of the United States, clearing the way for Lana to recover it .

It was not immediately clear whether he would, or whether the US or Greek governments would challenge the latest decision.

The withdrawal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek oil tankers in the Middle Eastern Gulf and return them to Iran after Tehran warned of “punitive action” against Athens. They have not yet been released.

IRANIAN OIL

The Lana, which was previously called the Pegas and was then under the Russian flag, was designated under sanctions by the United States in February to belong to a subsidiary of the Russian financial institution PSB, blacklisted by Washington in framework of severe sanctions against Moscow following its invasion. from Ukraine.

In a filing in a US court in May, which had already been sealed, the US government said the Pegas received a shipment of Iranian oil from an Iranian tanker via a ship transfer in Iranian waters.

He said the sale of the cargo was “for the benefit” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and their expeditionary wing, the Quds Force, both of which have been designated by Washington as foreign terrorist organizations.

According to a Greek court document seen by Reuters, the United States initially requested Greece’s intervention against Pegas on April 20, arguing that proceeds from its cargo “would help support a terrorist group”.

The document indicates that an arrest warrant was issued by a US court against Pegas on April 15, which allowed the confiscation of its cargo, the former owner of the vessel having been sanctioned by the United States.

The judges ordered the release of the cargo on the grounds that its owners had already changed on April 1, before the US request was sent. The document states that none of the current or former owners of the cargo have been sanctioned, and no evidence has been presented that either was connected to the illegal actions cited by the United States.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou in Athens and Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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