Mother of Greek sailor in Iranian custody: "We lost contact on Saturday"

"Prudent Warrior" and "Delta Poseidon" Greek sailor Iran

The "Prudent Warrior" and "Delta Poseidon" are now in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the oil they are transporting will be confiscated.

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday seized the two Greek oil tankers in a helicopter-launched raids in the Persian Gulf in retaliation for Athens’ assistance in the US seizure of crude oil from an Iranian-flagged tanker last week in the Mediterranean Sea.

Elpida Veviaki, mother of a 30-year-old sailor on board, spoke to OPEN TV.

"We were in contact on Saturday afternoon for a very short time, the whole crew is fine," she said. "They have not been harmed."

"They do not know why this whole story has happened, we expect the best.

"On Friday, when they entered through the air with the helicopters, everyone was naturally scared, suddenly to see on the ship 18 armed men is not the best.

"They were terrified, they took their mobile phones and told them that they were in command.

"They cut off all communication with relatives, there is no internet."

She continued: "They are free inside the ship, they are not bothered, only 8 guards are left inside."

"They have been anchored off Iran and are stuck there.

"The ministry has not contacted us, we are talking to the company.

"Everyone is talking about retaliation, what will happen from there and then no one knows.

"They do not care about the people inside, they want the cargo."

Both vessels had come from Iraq’s Basra oil terminal, loaded with crude, MarineTraffic.com tracking data showed.

Prudent Warrior just before had been off Qatar and likely loaded oil there as well, the data showed.

It appeared the two ships had come close to — but not into — Iranian territorial waters Friday, a US defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

After the hijacking, they drifted into Iranian waters. The ships had also turned off their tracking devices — another red flag, but neither had issued a mayday or a call for help, the official said.

“This incident is assessed to be a retaliatory action in line with a history of Iranian forces detaining vessels in a tit-for-tat manner,” maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global said.

“As a result, Greek-flagged vessels operating within the vicinity of Iran in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman are currently assessed to be at a heightened risk of interception and it is advised to avoid this area until further notice," he added.

For his part, G. Ailamakis, deputy mayor of Sitia town in Crete and a cousin of a sailor who is in the tankers, said: "The children are well, they were not abused, they were treated well.

"At first we were surprised, but now we are optimistic," he added.

Iran’s seizure on Friday is the latest in a string of hijackings and explosions to roil a region that includes the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all traded oil passes.

The incidents began after then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Underlining that threat, Iran’s Tasnim news agency wrote on Twitter that “there are still 17 other Greek ships in the Persian Gulf that could be seized.”

Meanwhile, Tehran said on Saturday that the crew of two Greek oil tankers seized have not been detained, contradicting comments from Greece's Foreign Ministry, DW reported.

"The crew of the two Greek tankers have not been arrested, and all crew members ... are in good health and are being protected, and provided with necessary services while on board [their ships]," the country's Ports and Maritime Organization said in a statement.

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