US ‘secretly’ seizes Venezuelan jumbo jet — RT World News

US officials claim that the Boeing 747 was previously owned by a sanctioned Iranian airline

US authorities have detained a Venezuelan cargo plane, claiming it formerly belonged to an Iranian airline allegedly affiliated with the IRGC's Quds Force. Caracas criticized the move, claiming that the transfer of its planes to the United States was done in secret.

According to a statement on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) website on Monday, the US-made jumbo jet was transferred to the United States on February 11 by the government of Argentina, which seized the aircraft in 2022.

US officials claim the plane was previously owned by Mahan Air – a sanctioned Iranian airline that the US accuses of transporting weapons and fighters for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – the main branch of Iran's armed forces. Washington has classified the group as a terrorist organization.

Mahan Air had previously sold the seized aircraft to Venezuelan cargo airline Emtrasur in a deal “It violated US export control laws and directly benefited the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Matthew J. Olsen. He added that the United States was “We are committed to ensuring that the full force of US laws deprives hostile government actors of the means to engage in malign activities that threaten our national security.”

The plane is going now “Ready to act.” The Ministry of Justice said without providing further details.

The Venezuelan government described the seizure of the plane as… “Blatant theft” And he did “Collusion” Between the United States and Argentina that violated civil aviation regulations as well “Commercial, civil and political rights” From Amtrasur.

In a statement published by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Evan Hale on X, Caracas also denounced the secretive nature of the transfer, alleging that the United States and Argentina concealed information when identifying the flight and turned off the 747's transponders several times en route to the United States on October 11. Sunday.

“To circumvent the sovereignty of the countries they flew over, they deleted data from the aircraft in the flight plan, gave it an official military flight designation (TYSON23), intermittently turned off the transponder, and took off from Argentina at midnight. To hide in the dark like criminals when they commit a crime.” Venezuelan Transport Minister Ramon Araguay wrote on social media.

Caracas has promised a “A strong, direct and proportionate response to this attack.” He said it would take “All measures will be taken to restore justice and achieve the return of the aircraft to its rightful owner.”

Mahan Air has repeatedly denied any connection to the seized plane.

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