The Iranian supertanker detained by Britain over accusations that it was transporting oil to Syria has reportedly been released

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  • Authorities in Gibraltar have released the Grace 1, the Iranian supertanker held by British authorities since early last month, multiple media outlets reported.
  • The British Royal Marines seized the Grace 1 on July 4 on suspicion that it was smuggling Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
  • Earlier on Thursday, authorities in the British territory announced that the US Department of Justice made a last-minute application to detain the Grace 1. No decision has been made on that yet.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The British territory of Gibraltar has released the Grace 1, the Iranian supertanker held by British authorities since early last month, multiple media outlets report.

The Gibraltar Supreme Court agreed to release the Iranian vessel that the Royal Marines seized on July 4, which had been suspected of transporting Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported.

The judges’ reasons to release the Grace 1 has not yet been announced.

The Iranian government has formally assured Gibraltar that the ship will not discharge its cargo in Syria, the Chronicle noted.

FILE PHOTO: A British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards the oil supertanker Grace 1, that's on suspicion of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria, as it sits anchored in waters of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/

It’s also not clear whether Grace 1 has set sail from Gibraltar yet. Authorities released the Grace 1’s crew, who are mostly Indian nationals, earlier in the day.

Earlier on Thursday, Gibraltar authorities also announced that the US Department of Justice made a last-minute application to seize the Grace 1.

However, the application was not put before the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported, citing Chief Justice Anthony Dudley. It remains unclear whether the US will lodge another appeal to detain the ship.

The Gibraltar government has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on decisions regarding the Grace 1.

hassan rouhani

Britain’s seizure of the Grace 1 has exacerbated maritime tensions between the UK and Iran. Fifteen days after the Grace 1 was taken, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in an apparent retaliation.

Both sides have accused each other of illegally seizing the other’s tanker. The Stena Impero and its crew remain anchored at the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

Iran’s president last month suggested swapping tankers with the UK to end the hostilities, but the British foreign secretary rejected the idea late last month.

It’s not clear if Gibraltar’s decision to release the Grace 1 was tied to the tanker-swap idea.

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