Iran said it expects oil cargo confiscated by the United States off the coast of Greece to be returned in full following a Greek court decision overturning an original ruling to allow its seizure.
The case arose when Greece in April impounded the Iranian-flagged Lana with 19 Russian crew members on board near the island of Evia because of European Union sanctions.
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The US in May confiscated part of the Iranian oil onboard, transferring it to another ship, following the initial Greek court ruling.
The Greek court’s decision to overturn that ruling has not yet been made public.
“Following intensive follow-up, the Greek Court of Appeals will overturn the initial court ruling on the confiscation of Iranian oil and … the entire oil shipment will be returned,” Iranian Ambassador Ahmad Naderi said.
“The issue remains the subject of intense consultations between the two countries to ensure full implementation of the ruling,” he added on the embassy’s Twitter account.
Greek media reported that the Lana was believed to be carrying more than 100,000 tonnes of Iranian crude, in breach of US and European Union sanctions on Iran.
The confiscation of the cargo prompted an angry response from Iran, with Iranian forces last month seizing two Greek tankers in the Gulf after Tehran warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens.
President Ebrahim Raisi said on Thursday that Iran had shown it would stand up to “bullies”.
“Like bullies, they stole our ship. Iran proved that the era of ‘hit and runs’ is over, and we seized two of their ships. How many times do you want to test the Iranian nation?” Raisi said in remarks carried by state television.
Asked if the latest judicial decision could open the way for the release of the two Greek tankers and their crews, Greek government spokesperson Giannis Oikonomou said Greece’s justice system was independent.
“First of all, since the first moment, we have not connected the two incidents. The Iranian forces’ behaviour over the tankers was totally unjustified and unprovoked. Secondly, justice in our country has proven that it operates independently,” he told reporters.
In 2019, Iran seized a British tanker near the Strait of Hormuz two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of shipping oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Both vessels were later released.