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Indonesia detains Iranian, Chinese crews of seized tankers

In this undated photo released by Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (BAKAMLA), a BAKAMLA ship escorts Iranian-flagged tanker MT Horse, top right, as they sail towards Batam Island, Indonesia. (Indonesian Maritime Security Agency via AP)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesian authorities have detained the Iranian and Chinese crewmembers of two tankers that were seized for illegally transferring oil in Indonesian waters, an official said Tuesday.

    "The Iranian-flagged MT Horse and Panamanian-flagged MT Freya are on the way to Batam island now. The crews are being detained for further investigation," Maritime Security Agency spokesperson Wisnu Pramandita said.

    He said 36 Iranian and 25 Chinese crewmembers were detained, and documents from the vessels were seized.

    He said the tankers, which were seized Sunday, are suspected of a variety of violations, including illegally transferring fuel at sea, spilling oil, not displaying national flags, covering the names on their hulls, shutting off their identification systems and anchoring illegally.

    "MT Freya did the oil spilling," Pramandita said.

    Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah said authorities are still investigating the ships' actions.

    Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday said Iran has asked Indonesia to provide more details on the status of the Iranian tanker.

    "We have asked Indonesia to give us more information. There have always been technical issues. Both Iran's transport ministry and foreign ministry are pursuing the case." Khatibzadeh said.

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