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Crew of MSC Aries released, claims Iran

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TEHRAN : All the Indian sailors on board the Portuguese flagged vessel MSC Aries have been released, the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced on May 3. This information was shared by Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a telephone conversation with his Estonian counterpart.

The crew consists of 25 Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian, and Estonian seafarers. The Indian seafarer onboard the vessel, Deck Cadet Ann Tessa Joseph, is reported to have been released earlier and landed in Cochin on 18 April.

The 15,000 teu container ship MSC Aries was seized by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz on April 13 with 25 crew onboard. Iran initially said the ship was targeted due to its links to Israel, but Amirabdollahian alleged in his call that the ship had turned off its transponders in Iranian waters, endangering security of navigation.

The ship also had several Estonian crew members, and the Iranian side said crew belonging to multiple nationalities have been released on humanitarian grounds. 

“Amirabdollahian said the ship, which turned off its radar in the territorial waters of Iran and endangered the security of navigation, is detained under judicial rules. He however noted that Iran has already released all the ship’s crew members on humanitarian grounds, and if the ship’s captain accompanies them, the crew including the Estonians can return to their country,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran in a press release. Of the 25 crew members 17 are Indian nationals. 

The announcement follows an update earlier this week when Iran said the crew had been granted consular access to pursue release and extradition.

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