One crew member of an oil tanker seized by Iran last week in the Gulf of Oman has been released and is on his way to Athens, the vessel's Greek owner said Thursday.
Eighteen Filipinos and one Greek were on the St. Nikolas, which is now anchored near the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
"The Greek cadet, escorted by Greece's ambassador in Iran, is on a flight to return home," the ship's owner Empire Navigation said in a statement.
It said the Philippines' ambassador in Iran was to visit as part of negotiations to free the other crew on the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel.
"The 18 remaining sailors, still on board the ship anchored at Bandar Abbas, are in good health and in contact with their families," it added.
The ship was carrying 145,000 tons of oil from Iraq and heading toward Turkey when it was seized.
Iran said it was retaliating for the "theft" of its oil from the same tanker — which at the time was called the Suez Rajan — last year by the United States, state media said.
Washington has condemned an "unlawful seizure" and demanded that Iran "immediately release the ship and its crew.”