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All five Iranian crew members of Venezuelan plane impounded in Argentina released: Spokesman

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)
A Venezuelan-owned Boeing 747, operated by Venezuela's state-owned Emtrasur cargo line, taxis on the runway after landing in the Ambrosio Taravella airport in Cordoba, Argentina, June 6, 2022. (Photo by AP)

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry says all five Iranian crew members of a Venezuelan plane, who had been confined in Argentina since June at the request of the United States, have been released and they are on their way back to Iran.

Nasser Kan’ani said in a statement that the Iranian nationals have been freed after 129 days of diplomatic efforts as well as legal and consular campaigns jointly conducted by Iranian and Venezuelan officials.  

He stated that an Argentinean investigating judge has eventually ruled that the documents and evidence given by the plaintiffs, namely the umbrella organization of Argentina's Jewish community (DAIA) and two Jewish members of the National Congress of Argentina, were inadmissible and inauthentic.

Accordingly, it ordered the release of the Iranian crew of the plane by lifting a ban on their travel.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Minister of Transport Ramón Velásquez has expressed happiness over the freedom of all crew members of the plane, whom he said were kidnapped by the Argentine judiciary.

Back on September 13, an Argentine appeals court ruled that 11 Venezuelans and one Iranian traveling on board the plane could depart.

Authorities called on the judge to conclude investigation into the remaining seven crew within 10 days.

The Boeing 747 cargo plane, sold by Iranian company Mahan Air to Venezuelan airline Emtrasur, was immobilized by Argentine officials at Ezeiza International Airport as both Venezuela and Iran, which signed a 20-year cooperation accord in June, are under draconian US sanctions.  

In early August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused the US of trying "to steal from us a gigantic, modern cargo airplane."

The Emtrasur plane, with a shipment of auto parts, first entered Argentina on June 6 from Mexico but, unable to refuel in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires due to US sanctions against Caracas, it left for Uruguay two days later.

After Uruguayan authorities refused it access, the plane flew back to Argentina where its crew was detained in a hotel following a request from a US court.

One of the Iranians previously prevented from leaving was pilot Gholamreza Ghasemi, who was also accused by the Argentine authorities of having alleged links to the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which has been falsely labeled as a “terrorist” organization by the United States.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry had occasionally reiterated that the presence of the Iranian trainers on board the Venezuelan plane had been in accordance with international aviation regulations and there were no legal grounds for continued detention of the crew in Argentina.

Iran has expertise in flying Boeing 747s because it has a number of them. These older planes are still flying and Iranian pilots have some unique expertise in keeping them aloft and extending their abilities.

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