More crew of grounded plane prevented from leaving Argentina

More crew of grounded plane prevented from leaving Argentina

The Venezuelan crew of a cargo plane that has been grounded outside Buenos Aires since last week may not leave Argentina, a judge ruled Tuesday after searching their hotel rooms in an investigation into possible Iranian terrorist group links.

Police struck the rooms of the 14 Venezuelan and five Iranian crew members the day after officials raised suspicions of a link with Iran’s revolutionary guards, listed by the United States as a foreign “terrorist organization”.

The Iranian crew had already temporarily confiscated their passports and on Tuesday their freedom from the Venezuelans was curtailed after the police seized cellphones, computers and documents during the early morning raid.

They were on board a Venezuelan Boeing 747 cargo plane that was allegedly transporting car parts that came from Mexico last week to land in Cordoba, Argentina.

The plane then tried to travel to neighboring Uruguay, but was denied entry and returned to Ezeiza outside Buenos Aires where it had been grounded since last Wednesday.

The plane belongs to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s Conviasa, which is under US sanctions.

A judge grounded the plane, giving a “reasonable suspicion that the reason given for the entry (Argentina) may not be true.”

Police did not comment on the reason for the hotel search, but on Monday Security Minister Anibal Fernandez said information had been received from “foreign organizations” that some of the crew could be linked to companies linked to the Revolutionary Guards. Iran’s ideological army. .

Fernandez said a smaller crew was reported on the flight log as the number that was actually on the plane, though no one was on Interpol’s wanted list.

The crew list did include “a relative of the Iranian interior minister,” said Fernandez, whose name “coincides with that of a member of the Revolutionary Guards.”

Paraguay also said on Tuesday that two officials who authorized the landing of the plane there in May have been fired, and two anti-drug agents are being investigated.

Home Secretary Federico Gonzalez said the plane landed in Paraguay on a “commercial” access permit with 18 crew members – a number that raises suspicions.

It spent almost three days at Guarani International Airport near the borders with Argentina and Brazil before leaving for the Caribbean island of Aruba on May 16 with a load of Paraguayan cigarettes.

After it left, “we received a message that the plane had been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department and that seven of the crew members were members of the Al Quds forces (of the guards) and that the United States was on them.” a list of terrorists, ”the minister said.

Paraguay has warned the intelligence services of other countries in the region.

Iran said on Monday that Argentina’s move was part of a “propaganda” campaign against Tehran amid tensions with Western countries over negotiations to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

The ground of the cargo plane came days before Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Tehran on Saturday so the allies, both subject to US sanctions, could sign a 20-year cooperation agreement.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, said the plane was sold by Iran’s Mahan Air to a Venezuelan company last year.

Mahan Air is accused by the United States of links with the Revolutionary Guards.

Interpol has issued arrest warrants for former Iranian leaders suspected of involvement in an attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people and injured hundreds.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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