This undated image made from a video provided by the IRGC/IRIB shows a ship in the Persian Gulf. Iranian forces seized the ship, which it suspected of carrying smuggled fuel, state media reported Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, marking the Revolutionary Guard's third seizure of a vessel in recent weeks and the latest show of strength by the paramilitary force amid a spike in regional tensions. (IRGC/IRIB via AP)

The Latest: Iranian FM says US tried to 'steal' tanker

August 15, 2019 - 8:59 am

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on Iranian supertanker at center of Persian Gulf tensions (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

Iran's foreign minister is accusing the U.S. of trying to "steal our property on the high seas" after an American request to seize an Iranian oil tanker.

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comment in a tweet Thursday night, immediately after a Gibraltar court said it would allow the Grace 1 to leave the British territory.

Zarif wrote: "Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism —including depriving cancer patients of medicine — the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas."

Zarif added: "This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump (administration's) contempt for the law."

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

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4.30 p.m.

A newspaper in Gibraltar says authorities have released an Iranian supertanker at the center of a standoff with Tehran that the U.S. had sought to seize through legal action.

The Supreme Court in Gibraltar had delayed a decision to release the ship after the U.S. Department of Justice made a last-minute application to extend the vessel's detention, the Gibraltar government said earlier on Thursday. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory linked by a narrow stretch of land to southern Spain.

But the Gibraltar Chronicle reports there was no U.S. application before the court when the hearing resumed on Thursday afternoon. The newspaper quoted the court's chief justice, Anthony Dudley.

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.

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11:25 a.m.

A newspaper in Gibraltar says the United States has applied to seize an Iranian supertanker that authorities in the British overseas territory were seeking to release from detention.

The Gibraltar Chronicle says the development means a last minute application by the U.S. Department of Justice to extend the ship's detention prompted the Supreme Court to adjourn its decision until later Thursday.

The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tanker was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. It's suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened international tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The Gibraltar government says it is seeking to "de-escalate" the situation over the Grace 1.

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