Venezuela received on Friday 12 crew members of a plane seized in Argentina in June, according to state television. The reports say that "we are celebrating (their) arrival," Venezuelan Transportation Minister Ramon Velasquez told Telesur from Maiquetia Airport, near the capital of Caracas, praising the crew.
Why was the crew detained?
The arrival of the crew is important to Iran. Iran has been pressing for their release. A report in Al-Mayadeen, which is seen as pro-Iranian, reported the story as well, highlighting its importance. Iranian media have blamed Israel for the detention of the crew and aircraft.
The Emtrasur cargo plane was sold to Venezuela by Iran's Mahan Air and arrived in Buenos Aires in June. It was en route to Uruguay when it was re-rerouted to Argentina due to weather. It was then seized in Argentina. It was suspicious in part because of its Iranian crew and also because the plane’s former owner was close to the Iranian regime. Argentina grounded the plane and then seized it in August after a request from a US court.
Venezuela has complained repeatedly about the detention of the crew and aircraft. Venezuela and Iran are allies. Venezuela’s transport minister praised the crew after they arrived. An Argentine court allowed the departure of 12 of the 19 crew members.
It remains unclear what will become of the plane and what further movements of the crew will mean. Iran clearly cares about this issue and has focused attention on the detention of the crew and plane. A senior member of the crew allegedly has connections to Iran’s regime.
In early September, the captain of the aircraft Gholamreza Ghasemi denied ties to Iran’s IRGC. He said, according to the report at Iran International, that he had been a flight instructor back in the 1980s and a volunteer in the Basij Popular Mobilization Forces.