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Iran says crew of Israel-linked ship to be released


Iran’s foreign minister said the crew members of a seized Portuguese-flagged ship linked to Israel have been granted consular access and are expected to be freed, Iranian media reported Saturday.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized the container vessel MSC Aries with a crew of 25 in the Strait of Hormuz on April 13, days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.

Recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis, claiming solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during Israel's war with Hamas, have affected global shipping.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told his Portuguese counterpart Paulo Rangel in a telephone call that the “humanitarian issue of the release of the ship's crew is of serious concern to us,” Iranian media said.

He was quoted as saying the crew would be turned over to their ambassadors in Tehran. The reports did not say when this would occur.

Iran’s foreign ministry has said that the Aries was seized for "violating maritime laws" and that there was no doubt it was linked to Israel.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, which is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

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