'If you obey, you will be safe.' Iran released dramatic video of its forces seizing a British tanker and the crew it interrogated
- UK-flagged vessel Stena Impero was seized by Iran on Friday. On Monday, Iran released footage of the crew, as well as the capture of the vessel.
- The company that owns the vessel, Stena Bulk, has been unable to contact crew members since Friday.
- Eghteen members of the 23-person crew are Indian nationals. The Indian Embassy in Iran told Reuters, "All the crew members including the Indian nationals are in good health, they are still on board the tanker."
- "Let us be clear, under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship's passage, let alone board her," said UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. "It was therefore an act of state piracy."
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On Friday, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps captured a UK-flagged Swedish tanker, the Stena Impero, making it the second foreign vessel Iran had captured in the past week amid rising tensions between Iran and the West.
On Monday, Iran's state-run Fars news agency released dramatic video of the IRGC preparing to board the vessel. IRGC speedboats circle the Stena Impero, and commandos climb down a rope from a helicopter onto the ship's deck.
Fars also released high-quality footage of IRGC speedboats surrounding the Stena Impero. Footage from the BBC shows the Stena Impero in the moments before it was seized. In the video, Iranian authorities command the vessel to turn around, saying, "If you obey, you will be safe."
Iran has reported, and Stena Bulk confirmed, that the Stena Impero is being held at the Port of Bandar Abbas. The company has been unable to contact its crew members, but the IRGC released video on Monday insisting that the crew was healthy and in good spirits.
The 23 crew members come from India, Latvia, the Philippines, and Russia. "Our local staff in India, Latvia, Philippines and Russia are in constant touch with the families," according to a statement Stena Bulk released Sunday.
Eighteen of Stena Impero's crew members are Indian, Reuters reported, citing Iranian authorities T.V. Pappachen, the father of 26-year-old crew member Dijo Pappachen from Kochi, told Reuters, "Neither has Dijo contacted the family nor could we contact him after the tanker was captured."
Indian crew members are aboard the Grace 1, the Iranian tanker seized by British Royal Marines on July 4, as well.
Mohammed Shareef, the brother of Grace 1's K. K. Ajmal, told Reuters that he had been able to speak to his brother by exchanging notes via social media, and that the crew was getting food and water. The brothers hail from Malappuram, India.
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented on Iran's seizure of the Stena Impero on Monday, telling the House of Commons, "Let us be clear, under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship's passage, let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy."
Hunt's statement comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the duty to protect UK-flagged ships in the contentious Strait of Hormuz lies with the UK.
"The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships. The US has a responsibility to do its part," he said. The US has proposed a coalition of allies patrol the Persian Gulf to ensure safe transit of goods through the Strait of Hormuz, the world's busiest shipping lane.
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