The crews of two Greek oil tankers seized by Iran’s navy in the Arabian Gulf are in “good health” and not under arrest, Iran said on Saturday.
The tankers were stopped by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday, days after Greece said it would deliver Iranian oil from a Russian tanker it seized to the US.
Iran's state maritime body said on Saturday the crews had not been detained, are in good health and being cared for on board their vessels.
“The crew of the two Greek tankers have not been arrested, and all crew members … are in good health and are being protected, and provided with necessary services while on board, in accordance with international law,” Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation said in a statement carried by state media.
The two vessels were stopped over unspecified maritime violations, the agency said.
Greece said on Friday that an Iranian navy helicopter landed on Greek-flagged vessel Delta Poseidon in international waters and took the crew hostage.
It said a similar incident took place on another Greek-flagged vessel near Iran, without naming the ship. Athens said both actions violated international law. The second ship was identified in reports as the Prudent Warrior.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry said Iranian authorities “violently took over” the two ships in an “act of piracy”.
It called for the immediate release of the vessels and their crews, and said these acts would have “particularly negative consequences” in bilateral relations and in Iran’s relations with the EU, of which Greece is a member.
Greek authorities last month impounded the Iranian-flagged Pegas off Greece under European Union sanctions. The US later confiscated the Iranian oil cargo held on board.
The Pegas and its Russian crew were released, but the seizing of the vessel inflamed tensions.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted: “Our ties must not be hampered by deeply shortsighted miscalculations, including highway robbery on the command of a third party.”
In 2019, Iran seized a British tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged violations two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Both vessels were later released.