South Korea says ship, captain detained in Iran have been released


A South Korean ship and its captain detained in Iran since January were released on Friday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

The chemical tanker was seized in the Strait of Hormuz off Oman by Iranian authorities who accused it of polluting the waters with chemicals.

Iran agreed to free all of the ship’s 20 crew members except for the captain in February, but the issue triggered a diplomatic spat after Iran demanded that Seoul release $7 billion in funds frozen in South Korean banks because of US sanctions. The ministry made no mention of the demand in its statement.

“The captain and sailors are in good health, and it’s been confirmed that the ship and its cargoes had no problems,” the ministry said. “The ship departed Iran after completing administrative procedures.”

Tehran has denied allegations that the seizure of the tanker and its crew constituted hostage-taking, claiming it was Seoul which was holding the Iranian funds “hostage”. The freezing of the funds is linked to US sanctions which Washington reimposed on Tehran in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

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