ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The crude oil cargo of an Iranian-flagged tanker that was stopped in Greek waters last month has been seized and is being transferred to another vessel following a request from the U.S., a Greek official said Thursday.
The official said following a “judicial intervention by U.S. authorities concerning the ship’s cargo” the process is currently underway, at U.S. government expense, for the oil “to be handed over” off the port of Karystos on the Aegean Sea island of Evia.
The official, who asked not to be identified in order to discuss the case, did not provide further details. A Justice Department spokesman in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Athens declined to comment Thursday.
Greek media said the Lana tanker was believed to be carrying more than 100,000 tons of Iranian crude, in breach of United States and European Union sanctions on Iran.
The vessel had been temporarily seized by Greek authorities on April 15 when it anchored off Karystos. At the time, it was flying a Russian flag, had recently changed its name from Pegas to Lana and was carrying a crew of 19 Russians. Greece's coast guard said it was seized due to suspicions it had breached EU sanctions imposed against Russia due to the war in Ukraine.
The bloc's sanctions include import and export bans for a wide variety of goods, and a ban on access to EU ports by Russian-flagged ships.
A few days later the vessel was released, but remained off Karystos and this month changed its flag from Russia to Iran. A Greek-controlled tanker was alongside the Lana on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Iranian state media said Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the chief of Greece’s diplomatic mission for allegedly seizing cargo from an Iranian-flagged vessel in Greek waters. The IRNA news agency said the cargo was confiscated with a court order under pressure from the U.S. It said Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the measure “international piracy.”