At US request, Argentina orders seizure of Venezuelan plane linked to Iran
Buenos Aires, Aug 11 (EFE).- At the request of Washington, Argentina on Thursday ordered the seizure of a Venezuelan plane bought from Iran and held in Buenos Aires for possible terrorism links, judicial sources confirmed to EFE.
Judge Federico Villena authorized that the cargo plane, immobilized at Ezeiza International Airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, be seized by representatives of the FBI and airport security police.
The judicial sources consulted by EFE said the decision was made at the request of a federal court in the United States District of Columbia and by virtue of a legal assistance treaty in criminal matters between Argentina and the US.
On Aug. 2, the US Department of Justice transmitted to Argentina the request of the Columbia court to confiscate the US-made plane, alleging that the aircraft was subject to sanctions because its “unauthorized” sale by Iranian company Mahan Air to Venezuelan cargo airline Emtrasur violates US export control laws.
The department said Mahan Air is an Iranian airline affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp-Qods Force, a US-designated terrorist organization, and Emtrasur is subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services.
Washington has sanctioned both companies for alleged collaboration with terrorist organizations.
The plane arrived in Argentina on June 6 from Mexico and after making a stopover in Venezuela.
Two days later it left Argentina to refuel in Uruguay, but had to return to Ezeiza airport because the neighboring country did not authorize the landing.
Upon its return to Ezeiza with five Iranian and 14 Venezuelan crew members on board, Argentinian justice ordered the immobilization of the plane.
In recent days, various representatives of the Venezuelan government have demanded the return of the Boeing 747.
President Nicolás Maduro has claimed that the US intends to “steal” the plane. EFE