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Iranian tanker ‘released by authorities in Gibraltar’

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Authorities in Gibraltar have reportedly released an Iranian supertanker at the centre of an international stand-off with Tehran which the US had sought to seize through legal action.

The Supreme Court in Gibraltar had delayed a decision to release the ship after the US Department of Justice made a last-minute application to extend the vessel’s detention, the Gibraltar government said earlier on Thursday.

But the Gibraltar Chronicle reports there was no US application before the court when the hearing resumed on Thursday afternoon.

The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude, was seized on July 4 in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The vessel was suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

The detention of the Grace 1 saw Iran later seize the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by the Islamic Republic.

Analysts hope the release of the Grace 1 by Gibraltar will see the Stena Impero similarly freed from detention.

The Grace 1’s captain, an Indian national, and three officers were released from detention early on Thursday.

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