US wants Argentina to seize Venezuelan plane over 'sanctions'
Argentinian Judge Federico Vilena has ordered that only 12 of the 19 seized Venezuelan plane crew members can leave the country while the other seven have been ordered to remain there.
Washington asked Argentina, on Tuesday, to seize a Venezuelan cargo plane that has been parked since June on its soil and is linked to the US sanctions against Iran. The plane had 19 crew members at a Buenos Aires airport since it arrived on June 8 carrying a shipment of auto parts.
The Boeing 747 was sold to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan company Conviasa, by an Iranian company, Mahan Air, in October 2021. The two countries have signed a 20-year cooperation plan as a way to overcome the sanctions imposed against them by the US.
Both the previous Iranian owner of the Boeing 747 as well as the Venezuelan owner of the plane have been sanctioned by the US for different reasons. The US Department of Justice used this pretext to justify its request from Argentina to confiscate the plane.
According to AFP, Argentinian Judge Federico Vilena has ordered that only 12 of the 19 crew members plane crew can leave, but seven others, including four Iranian and three Venezuelan citizens, were ordered to stay. One of the Iranians that are ordered to remain in Buenas Aires is Gholam-Reza Qasemi, which the US alleges is an ex-IRGC member.
"As alleged in the seizure warrant, in or around October 2021, Mahan Air violated the Temporary Denial Order and US export control laws when it transferred custody and control of the Boeing aircraft to EMTRASUR without US Government authorization," the Justice Department claimed in a statement.
Furthermore, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said in a statement "The Department of Justice will not tolerate transactions that violate our sanctions and export laws."
The crew was kept on board and Iranian diplomats were prevented from visiting the ship until Iran's ambassador to Athens was allowed to check on the crew. This was only after Iran retaliated against the theft of its cargo, by the seizure of two Greek tankers in the Gulf.
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