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Iran says seizure of ship a legal matter

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Iranian speedboat patrols the waters in the port of Bandar Abbas on July 2, 2012. ©Getty

Iran seized a cargo ship in the Persian Gulf because the company operating the vessel owed an outstanding debt to an Iranian private company which it is refusing to pay, an official says.

“A legal complaint by a domestic private company resulted in the seizure of the Marshal Islands-flagged vessel in Iranian waters by the Coast Guard,” head of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran Mohammad Sa’eednejad said.

The Coast Guard intercepted the ship belonging to the MV Maersk Tigris on the order of a court in Tehran, he said.

Sa’eednejad said the Iranian company has an outstanding amount of claims against Maersk which it has failed to settle.

“The complaint by a private plaintiff resulted in an order issued on March 16 for the confiscation of assets held by Maersk,” he added.

The ship was sailing in the Iranian waters when it was intercepted by the Coast Guard and diverted toward Larak Island near Bandar Abbas.

The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain dispatched the destroyer USS Farragut and a reconnaissance aircraft to the area following a distress call by the Maersk Tigris, the Pentagon said.

Sa’eednejad said the American forces left the scene when the situation was explained to them.

“It was announced that the issue was a legal dispute between two trade companies and the American forces accepted it,” he told IRNA.

The vessel has been described as a 65,000-tonne container ship and listed as sailing from Saudi Arabia's Red Sea port of Jeddah, bound for the United Arab Emirates port of Jebel Ali in the Persian Gulf.

It reportedly had 24 crew on board, mostly from eastern Europe and Asia.


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