Iran says it will allow crew of detained South Korean vessel to leave

Claiming it a humanitarian move Iran lets crew of seized vessel go

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 file photo released by Tasnim News Agency, a seized South Korean-flagged tanker is escorted by Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats on the Persian Gulf. Iranian state television acknowledged that Tehran seized the oil tanker, MT Hankuk Chemi, in the Strait of Hormuz. A South Korean diplomatic delegation arrived in Iran on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, to negotiate the release of the vessel seized amid an escalating financial dispute between the countries, Iranian state-run media reported. (Tasnim News Agency via AP, File)
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Iran has agreed to allow the crew members of a South Korean vessel it seized for alleged environmental pollution to leave the country, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state media on Tuesday.

He said the 20-member crew would be released following a request from the South Korean government "in a humanitarian move by Iran."

The MT Hankuk Chemi was seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on January 4, and its crew - from South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar - taken into custody in  Bandar Abbas, near the Strait of Hormuz.

The ship's operator, DM shipping, denied polluting the Gulf with chemicals.

South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister and his delegation visited Tehran last month to discuss the release of the ship and crew and some $7 billion in assets of Iran tied up in the country's banks due to American sanctions.

Iran’s foreign minister had told the visiting South Korean delegation that the release of its vessel and crew was a matter for the courts and out of the government’s hands.