Indian Stena Impero crew
Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan met the 18 crew Indian crew members in Iranian seized ship, Stena Impero on July 25.V. Muraleedharan/Twitter

Iran will free seven crew members, including five Indians of the detained British tanker, Stena Impero, announced Iranian officials on Wednesday, September 4. 

The seven crew members, comprising of five Indian, one Latvian and one Russian, were allowed to leave the tanker on humanitarian grounds and could leave Iran soon, BBC reported citing state television.

"They have left the vessel and the final procedures are underway to send them back to their countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state media.

The 18 Indian crew members on board the British-flagged tanker were granted consular access by Iranian authorities on July 19.

The Iranian official said that they had "no problem with the crew and the captain" and were at issue with the "violations that the vessel committed," according to reports.

Mousavi, however, did not comment on what would happen to the remaining 13 Indian, two Russian and one Filipino crew members.

Indian foreign ministry has not yet issued a statement on the release of the crew members.

Stena Impero
Stena Impero tanker.Reuters

The tanker was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 in retaliation to the seizure of Iranian tanker Grace 1 by Gibraltar authorities, that had taken place two weeks before, for violating European Union sanctions by carrying oil to Syria.

While the Grace 1 carrying 24 Indian crew members were released by Gilbratar authorities in August, after being reflagged under the Iranian flag and renamed Adrian Darya, the United States revoked the visas of the detained sailors in its disappointment with the United Kingdom for going ahead with the release of the tanker.

Around 45 Indian crew members from three vessels -- MT Riah, Stena Impero and Grace 1 -- had been detained by the UK and Iran authorities over alleged violations of international maritime security regulations.

The seizure sparked tensions between the West and Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz region a year after US imposed sanctions against Iran after the country withdrew from the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

Iran has responded to the sanctions by suspending itself from some of its commitments by deciding to violate the nuclear stockpile limit.