Gibraltar Frees Iranian Supertanker Despite US Pleas to Stop Release; UK Appears to Attempt to Distance Itself From Seizure
August 15: Further to reports of plans to release the GRACE 1 (now renamed ADRIAN DARYA 1 and flagged with Iran), Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo has now confirmed the release of the 1,082 ft vessel.
He said: “In light of the assurances we have received, there are no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1 in order to ensure compliance with the EU Sanctions Regulation.”
“The Grace 1 is therefore now released from detention under the Sanctions Act by operation of law as confirmed this afternoon by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”
Footage from Thursday afternoon appears to show the GRACE 1 leaving the coast of Gibraltar.
The Gibraltar government confirmed the US Department of Justice had sought to extend the detention of the oil tanker GRACE 1, prompting the Supreme Court in the territory to adjourn a scheduled decision on whether to release the ship.
“The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” the Gibraltar government said in a statement.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The British Foreign Office said the “investigations conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the government of Gibraltar”, and that it could not comment further as the investigation is ongoing. This suggests that the UK is seeking to distance itself as much as possible from the seizure, likely in an attempt to reduce the consequences of the initial seizure and ease tensions with Iran. It is also likely that the UK hopes that the release will also lead to Iran releasing the STENA IMPERO.