IRANIAN EXILES SURRENDER BOAT TO FRANCE

IRANIAN EXILES SURRENDER BOAT TO FRANCE ...
nytimes.com 20/08/1981 History

Keywords:#Algeria, #American, #Aryana, #Associated_Press, #Azadegan, #Azadegan_Organization, #Bahonar, #Elysee, #Elysee_Palace, #Foreign_Minister, #France, #Francois_Mitterrand, #French, #Gibraltar, #Government, #Iran, #Iranian, #Iranian_Navy, #Iranian_Revolution, #Islamic, #Madrid, #Mediterranean, #Moroccan, #Morocco, #Nytimes.com, #Pahlavi, #Paris, #Persian, #Pierre, #President, #Prime_Minister, #Revolution, #Shah, #Spain, #Strait_of_Gibraltar, #Tabarzin

After more than 24 hours of negotiations, Iranian hijackers agreed today to surrender to the French the Iranian gunboat they seized off the Spanish port of Cadiz last Thursday.
Azadegan press conference in 1981

* * * The boat ended its brief career as a flagship for Iranian exiles at the end of a towline, behind a French tug that took it into the port of Toulon east of Marseilles.
Without using the word asylum, the French Government said in a statement, ''Members of the commando force will have their security guaranteed and be subject to French laws.''
It continued, ''After the necessary controls, the missile boat will be placed at the disposal of the Iranian authorities.'' (The hijackers, who were said to number about 20, were transferred to Paris from Hyeres, a town near Toulon, The Associated Press quoted French Government sources as saying. They said two Iranian Navy officers arrived in Toulon today to prepare to take the vessel to Iran, the news agency reported.)
Iran Attacks French Move
As for the original crew members on board when the hijackers took over, the French statement said, ''Those Iranian nationals desiring to return to Iran will be put in contact with the charge d'affaires of that country.''
Iranian officials attacked the French Government for harboring ''pirates'' and, according to the Iranians, for ''encouraging piracy on the high seas.''
Claude Cheysson, the Foreign Minister, replied, ''The possibility of whether, under the law, asylum can be accorded the members of the monarchist commando is being studied.''
Pierre Beregovoy, the secretary general of Elysee Palace, said in a separate statement that ''The hijackers will be neither extradited nor expelled and will be treated in conformance with our laws.''
The gunboat's captors, members of a monarchist group called Azadegan, or Born Free, which is dedicated to the overthrow of the Islamic Government of Iran, agreed to give up the vessel early this afternoon. Hijackers Demanded Fuel
The hijackers had sailed the 160-foot missile launching gunboat, called the Tabarzin, into Marseilles harbor yesterday to ask for fuel. They released some 30 members of the original crew who had refused to join their cause and asked to be allowed to return to Iran.
When the French refused to refuel the craft, the hijackers threatened to blow it up, a tactic that apparently worked last Friday when the vessel arrived in Casablanca, Morocco.
Moroccan authorities said that they had supplied fuel, food and water because they feared the consequences if the hijackers blew up the ammunition aboard the gunboat, which the Moroccans said included 1,200 shells for the vessel's 40-millimeter cannon and 270 rounds for its 76-millimeter gun.
The Tabarzin was hijacked five miles off of Cadiz last Thursday as it and two sister ships steamed through the Mediterranean toward Iran. The two other vessels escaped and were last reported at Oran, Algeria, heading for Iran. Vessels Ordered by Shah
The gunboats were the last of 12 vessels ordered from France by the Government of Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi in 1974. The vessels were delayed in Cherbourg, where they had been built, by a French Government embargo on arms shipments to Iran during the American hostage crisis.
President Francois Mitterrand ordered their release two weeks ago in a move interpreted here as an attempt to mollify the Iranian Government, angry that France had granted political asylum to Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the deposed President.
After the hijackers turned the Tabarzin over to the French Navy today, the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Javad Bahonar, said in Teheran that France would be held responsible for the hijacking if it failed to hand over the hijackers to Iran. ''These pirates are thieves,'' he said, ''and must be punished.''
In Madrid, the Iranian special envoy, Abbas Soroush, said that he would ask the Spanish Government to demand from France the extradition of the hijackers. 'Spain's Responsibility'
''Since the crime occurred in Spanish waters,'' he said, ''it is Spain's responsibility to demand the extradition of the hijackers and the boat.''
If France granted asylum, Mr. Soroush said, it was tantamount to approving an act of piracy. He predicted that France would soon find sea pirates from all over the world seeking asylum. He also criticized the Spanish Navy for not having seen the three gunboats pass through the Strait of Gibraltar and for not having informed Iranian authorities.
Here in Paris, Government and private lawyers and specialists in international maritime law were studying the various conventions which cover the operation and the rights of vessels in international waters.
According to one source, maritime law defines piracy as ''all illegitimate acts of violence and detention committed for personal reasons against another ship,'' and states that ''every nation must cooperate in every possible way to repress such piracy.''
The law also states, the source said, that any nation has the right ''to order out of its waters any ship in contravention of its laws.'' The French tried to order the Tabarzin out of Marseilles yesterday. The hijackers refused.
The Azadegan Organization (Persian: آزادگان‎, lit. 'the [spiritually] free ones') was an Iranian monarchist organisation which sought to restore the Pahlavi dynasty following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The group, founded by General Bahram Aryana, was described as the most prominent of the "fundamentalist monarchist" (vice "constitutionalist monarchist") groups following the Revolution.
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