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Iran says Indians onboard the Israel-linked ‘MSC Aries’ ship will be released soon, had seized the vessel amidst tensions with Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister told his Portuguese counterpart Paulo Rangel that the humanitarian issue of the release of the ship's crew was of serious concern to Iran

Foreign Minister of Iran Hossein Amirabdollahian has announced that the crew onboard the Israel-linked ship, seized by Iranian authorities, had been granted consular access and were expected to be freed, as reported by Iranian media on Saturday (27th April). The container vessel, MSC Aries, carries a crew of 25 members, 17 of whom are Indian nationals. One of the Indian crew members, a woman named Ann Tessa Joseph, was released earlier. She safely returned home on the 18th of April.

On Saturday, the Iranian Foreign Minister told his Portuguese counterpart Paulo Rangel that the humanitarian issue of the release of the ship’s crew was of serious concern to Iran. He added that the crew would be handed over to their ambassadors in Tehran.

Abdollahian said, “The human issue of the freedom of the ship’s crew is of serious concern to us, and we have announced consular access, freedom, and transfer to their ambassadors in Tehran.” However, the release timeline is still unclear, that is, when will these crew members be released. 

Earlier, the Indian External Affairs Ministry (MEA) stated that there were certain “technicalities involved” in the return of the remaining 16 Indian crew members. However, MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal assured that the Indian nationals were in contact with their family members and were in good health.

Jaiswal had said, “These 16 people, we had asked consular access for, which we got. Our officers went there and met. They are in constant touch with their families. Their health is good and they have no problems of any kind onboard the ship. As far as their return is concerned, there are certain technicalities involved, there are some contractual obligations, once that is done, when they’ll return it will depend on that.” 

Notably, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized MSC Aries in the Strait of Hormuz on 13th April. When it was en route to Mumbai, the IRG raided the vessel by helicopter. The development came amidst the ongoing Israel-Iran tensions as the former was accused of striking the Iranian consulate in Damascus earlier this month. 

MSC Aries is a Portuguese-flagged container ship and it is associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the Aries was seized for “violating maritime laws” and there was no doubt it was linked to Israel. 

Last week while responding to reporters’ questions, an Iranian FM Spokesperson said, “The vessel was diverted into Iran’s territorial waters as a result of violating maritime laws and not answering calls made by Iranian authorities.” 

MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship. They said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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