Spurning the Trump administration's last-minute attempt to block its release, the Gibraltar Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that an Iranian oil tanker seized by British forces last month must be allowed to set sail.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed an appeal earlier Thursday to seize control of the tanker, a move Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed as a "piracy attempt" that showed the Trump administration's "contempt for the law."
"Up to the last minute, the United States tried in vain to prevent the release of the tanker, but was faced with a humiliating defeat."
—Hamid Baeidinejad, Iranian Ambassador to the U.K.
"Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its economic terrorism—including depriving cancer patients of medicine—the U.S. attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas," Zarif tweeted following the ruling by Gibraltar's Supreme Court.
As Common Dreams reported last month, Iran accused the U.K. government of acting "at the request" of the Trump administration after British commandos raided Iran's Grace 1 tanker in waters east of Gibraltar, an overseas territory of the U.K.
The British government claimed the Iranian vessel was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions, an accusation Iran denied.
The U.K.'s seizure of Grace 1 prompted Iran to capture a British-owned tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last month in retaliation, sparking concerns of an all-out military conflict between the U.K. and Iran.
Simon Tisdall, foreign affairs editor for The Guardian, suggested in a column at the time that Trump national security adviser John Bolton "was directly involved in manufacturing the Gibraltar incident."
Iran has not yet said whether it will release the British tanker following the release of Grace 1.
"Iranian officials have previously hinted at the possibility of such a trade," the New York Times reported. "An oil trader in Iran who had been briefed on the dispute said that the British ship would be released once the Iranian tanker had reached Greece."
On Twitter, Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran's Ambassador to the U.K., celebrated the Gibraltar court's decision to release Grace 1 in defiance of the Trump administration.
"Up to the last minute, the United States tried in vain to prevent the release of the tanker, but was faced with a humiliating defeat," Baeidinejad said.