Venezuela receives repatriated planes from Argentina By Reuters

© Reuters FILE PHOTO: A view of Boeing 747 aircraft of Venezuela’s Imtrasur Cargo Airlines No. YV3531 at Cordoba Airport Ambrosio Taravela in Cordoba, Argentina, June 6, 2022. REUTERS/Sebastian Borsero

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela on Friday repatriated the crew of a flight that had been held captive in Argentina since June after their plane was seized on suspicion of terrorism, state television reported.

“We are celebrating their (arrival),” Venezuelan Transport Minister Ramon Velasquez told Telesur from Maiketia Airport near the capital Caracas, hailing the workers as “an example of revolutionary struggle.”

An Argentine court on Tuesday allowed 12 of the 19 crew members to leave.

An Amtrasur cargo plane sold to Venezuela by Iran’s Mahan Air arrived in Buenos Aires in early June, according to flight tracking data.

His arrival created a diplomatic stir for Argentina. The country has been accused of supporting Iran and Venezuela, which are under US sanctions. Argentina seized the plane in August at a request from a US court.

Of the 12 crew members released, 11 are Venezuelans and one is Iranian. A further three Venezuelans and four Iranian crew members are still not allowed to leave Argentina.

Velazquez said this was an “illegal” arrest.

The arrest sparked protests in Venezuela, with several demonstrations in Caracas calling for the workers’ return.

Iran and Venezuela have close ties in areas such as oil and industry and signed a 20-year cooperation plan in June.

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