By Tom Westcott and Taziz Hasairi.
Tripoli, 22 March 2014:
The oil tanker that fled into international waters after loading an . . .[restrict]illegal shipment of crude from Sidra port has now been returned to Libyan government control.
The Morning Glory was apprehended off the coast of Cyprus by US forces and escorted back to the edge of Libyan territorial waters first by the USS Stout and then by the USS Elrod. American military personnel were aboard the vessel throughout its journey back to Libya.
“Earlier today, US forces turned control of the Morning Glory over to the Government of Libya. The handover took place in international waters off the coast of Libya, and the Government of Libya and its security forces are now in control of the vessel,” the US embassy in Libya said in a statement.
Libyan Navy spokesperson Ayoub Ghassem told the Libya Herald that the Morning Glory was en route to Zawia under the control of the Libyan Navy.
“The timing is confidential but we will make an announcement when the tanker arrives at Zawia Port,” he said. “For now the port is controlled by the Navy and some members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard and is under the authority of the Libyan government,” Ghassem said
The US government had been working in close cooperation with the Libyan government to safely return the Morning Glory to Libya, the embassy said, adding that this morning’s handover had gone smoothly and as planned.
“We have been assured by the Government of Libya that the captain, crew members, and Libyan nationals who were aboard the stateless tanker will be treated humanely in accordance with internationally recognised standards of human rights,” the embassy said. [/restrict]