Home Argentina market Argentina immobilizes Venezuelan cargo plane linked to Iran, lawmakers call for investigation

Argentina immobilizes Venezuelan cargo plane linked to Iran, lawmakers call for investigation


The Emtrasur cargo plane, sold in Venezuela by Iranian Mahan Air a year ago according to the Iranian airline, arrived in Buenos Aires on June 8, according to flight tracking data. It was later seized by authorities, Iran’s lawmakers and media said.

Argentina’s government has not publicly confirmed the seizure, but an Interior Ministry document shared with Reuters said authorities took the action due to suspicions about the stated reason for the plane’s entry. in the country.

Iran and Venezuela, both of which are under US sanctions, have close ties. The two countries signed a 20-year cooperation plan on Saturday. Center-left Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has criticized US sanctions against Venezuela.

Argentina’s government did not respond to questions from Reuters seeking comment on the plane. Venezuelan authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Sunday, Argentine lower house lawmaker Gerardo Milman, who has drawn attention to the case in recent days, filed a complaint with a judge asking to fingerprint the crew and share the information. with the Federal Intelligence Agency.

“Our information is that this is a plane that came to carry out intelligence activities in Argentina,” said Milman, a member of the country’s Congressional Intelligence Committee.

According to the Interior Ministry document, shared with Reuters by Milman, 14 Venezuelans and 5 Iranians were traveling on the plane. It listed the names of the people on board.

Argentine courts must also rule on a habeas corpus filed by a lawyer for the crew to release the plane and return the passports to those on board, Argentine media reported.

It was not immediately clear whether the plane, with a YV3531 tail sign, was on a list of Iran-linked planes under US sanctions. Mahan Air has been under US sanctions since 2011 for supporting Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

“The ownership of the plane was transferred a year ago and it was sold to a Venezuelan company,” Mahan’s spokesman Amir Hossein Zolanvari told the official IRNA news agency.

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom and Lucila Sigal in Buenos Aires; Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Alexander Vileggas; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Chris Reese)