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  • US Department of Justice emblem, they are making demands on the UK regarding the seized oil tanker

    US Department of Justice emblem, they are making demands on the UK regarding the seized oil tanker | Photo: Wikipedia

Published 15 August 2019

Gibraltar's Chief Justice Anthony Dudley is quoted in the Guardian as saying the “the ship would have sailed,” by now were it not for the request by Washington.

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. 

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“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”

There are growing concerns about the U.S. pressuring the U.K. into more aggressive foreign policy decisions. Following the attempted coup in Venezuela in early 2019, the Bank of England announced that they had confiscated over US$1 billion in Venezuelan gold reserves deposited there, and the Venezuelan government claimed that this was implemented on orders from the U.S. 

Then on Wednesday, two U.K. charities warned that British desperation for a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. would push Britain into disadvantageous terms, including new military cooperation, pointing out that war hawk U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton was leading negotiations. 

Asad Rehman from the charity ‘War on Want’ said “John Bolton is national security negotiator and knows very little about the trade...he is dangling the hope of a fast-track trade deal in return for support for his hawkish plans.”​​​​​​​

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