BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – An Argentine court has granted permission to the final five crew members of a Venezuelan plane grounded since June in Argentina on suspicion of potential terrorism links to leave the country, local media reported late on Friday.
Argentine daily La Nacion and other media said Judge Federico Villena had given the order for the three Iranians and two Venezuelans on the crew of the Boeing 747 cargo plane of Iranian origin that belongs to Venezuelan company Emtrasur.
The court could not immediately be reached for comment.
The plane arrived in Buenos Aires in early June, according to flight tracking data, and its presence soon created a diplomatic ruckus for Argentina.
A court in the United States, which has sanctioned Iran and Venezuela, asked Argentina to seize the aircraft in August, which it did the following week. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the court order was intended to steal the plane.
The plane had been sold to Venezuela by Iran’s Mahan Air last year, according to the Iranian airline. The rest of its 19 crew were given leave to depart Argentina in the past few weeks.
Iran and Venezuela maintain close ties and signed a 20-year cooperation plan in June. Center-left Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has criticized U.S. sanctions on Caracas.
Argentine authorities held the plane because of suspicions about its declared reason for entering the country, according to a National Directorate of Migration document seen by Reuters.
The plane’s seizure caused outrage in Caracas among supporters of the ruling party, who marched to demand its release.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)