The US State Department has admitted to blackmailing and threatening captain Akhilesh Kumar of the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as Grace 1. It has been quite some time since the Gibraltar released the tanker, after Iran convinced the authorities at Gibraltar that its destination is not towards Syria.
This did not seem to go down well with the US authorities, who tried to oppose the decision and block the release. And when they failed to do so, they authorized the seizure of the oil tanker.
Brian Hook, head of the federal department of Iran Action Group, in order to seize the oil tanker, emailed Akhilesh and said, “This is Brian Hook… I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo and serve as the US Representative for Iran. I am writing with good news.”
The email asked the Captain to change the course of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 to a destination where the US could seize it without any issue.
The email further included that he will be rewarded with several millions of dollars if he helps the authorities to capture the tanker and stated, “With this money you can have any life you wish and be well-off in old age. If you choose not to take this easy path, life will be much harder for you.”
Two days later, when the captain did not revert back to the email, Hook imposed sanctions on the ship and Akhilesh, criminalizing any transaction related with him.
Hook justified the move of threatening the Iranian oil tanker as a measure to counter terrorism in response to a 1984 program. The email appears a desperate attempt to mount pressure on Iranian authorities and to gain an upper hand.
Following the sanctions imposed on the ship and its captain, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail—deliver us Iran’s oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself. Sounds very similar to the Oval Office invitation I received a few weeks back.”
The tactic of black-mailing an innocent and the threat to face the consequences is something US authorities should prevent if they want to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East region.
The decision of imposing sanction on the Iranian oil tanker comes at a time when there are probable chances of President Donald Trump meeting the Iranian leaders to resolve the ongoing conflict. Such a move clearly indicates the bullying nature of the federal authorities of the US that is willing to criminalize anyone who does not agree with them.