One Latvian national on British tanker seized by Iran

  • 2019-07-20
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - According to the Foreign Ministry, one Latvian national is on the British tanker seized by Iran.

The ministry says that it is working in the release of the Latvian national. Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has contacted EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to coordinate the release efforts on a EU level.

At the same time, Latvia plans to turn to the Iranian government today to demand the release of the Latvian national and the rest of the tanker's crew.

Rinkevics said that Latvia is working together with EU and British officials to solve the matter, and that the ministry has been in contact throughout the night. He confirmed that Latvia will do everything it can to free the Latvian national.

He also added that the ministry has no information on the seaman's condition at the moment. However, he said that as soon as the ministry has this information it will make it known.

Rinkevics said that the seizure of the ship is unacceptable and that the situation remains complicated.

The AFP news agency reports that Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Friday they had seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for breaking "international maritime rules" as tensions mount in the highly sensitive waterway.

Britain however said Iran had seized two ships in the Gulf, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warning of "serious consequences" if the issue was not resolved quickly.

On Friday, the Stena Impero tanker "was confiscated... for failing to respect international maritime rules," the Revolutionary Guards' official website Sepahnews said.

The tanker "was led to the shore and handed over to the organisation to go through the legal procedure and required investigations," it said.

The ship was transiting the Strait of Hormuz and in "international waters" when it was "attacked by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter," the owner of the tanker said.

"We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now tracking as heading north towards Iran," a statement said.

Hunt said he was "extremely concerned" by the seizure of the two vessels.

"We are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences," he told Sky News.