(TELESUR) – The U.S. Department of Justice has put in a special request, in the early hours of Thursday morning, demanding that they be given Iran’s oil tanker, which was seized by the U.K., and which was due to be returned to Iran on Thursday.
“The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 [Iranian ship] on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” said the government of Gibraltar in an official statement.
The ship had been seized by U.K. authorities in Gibraltar in July but was due to be handed back to Iran on Thursday, after Iran presented documents proving that ship was destined for Morocco, not Syria, which is sanctioned under EU rules.
Thanks to the documents presented, courts were to rule Thursday morning on the release of the ship, with Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo saying that he would not request an extension on the detention of the ship.
Gibraltar’s Chief Justice Anthony Dudley is quoted in the Guardian saying that the “the ship would have sailed,” by now were it not for the request by Washington.
The ship contains 2.1 million barrels of oil, which Iran is keen to have returned, yet this new move by the U.S. will delay that further. Courts in Gibraltar will reconvene at 2:00 p.m. UK time, to review the request from the U.S. government.
PressTV’s Ahmed Kaballo was at the court in Gibraltar on Thursday as the news broke, he commented in a video posted on Twitter saying; “To me it’s a very worrying sign that the U.S. Department of justice is interfering with the independent judicial system here in Gibraltar, and also with British judicial affairs”