Turkish-owned cargo ship released by Libyans after paying a fine

A Turkish-owned cargo ship, the Mabrooka, which was detained by the Libyan National Army (LNA) was released on December 10th after five days under arrest. Reportedly it was permitted to proceed after paying a fine for entering Libyan waters without permission. The LNA is controlled by Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar and has hegemony over the eastern part of the country.

Turkish authorities had declared that the Jamaica-flagged Mabrooka had been on a humanitarian mission, carrying medicine and supplies to the city of Misrata. There were 17 crew onboard, consisting of nine Turkish nationals, seven Indians, and one from Azerbaijan.

The LNA reported that they inspected the ship and its crew before permitting it to proceed. They claimed that the vessel had violated maritime rules and laws entering an area where it should not have been sailing. They also claimed it was hundreds of miles from its declared destination and that the crew did not comply with instructions.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that Turkish interests were being targeted by the rebel forces because Turkey sides with the Tripoli-based government in the western half of the country. Turkey had called for the immediate release of the ship warning of “grave consequences.”

Turkish warships have recently been seen off the Libyan shore, which is seen as contributing to increased tensions on both sides of the conflict.