Russia says no arms found on `mystery hijacking` ship
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 20, 2009, 00:00
Moscow: The Arctic Sea ship seized by alleged pirates a month ago does not contain any cargo that compromises Moscow, Russian investigators said on Saturday, after speculation it was carrying arms to Iran.

"The ship has been examined with modern equipment both inside and outside. Apart from its cargo of timber, nothing else was found which could compromise Russia," said Vladimir Markin, the head of a panel of investigators, Interfax news agency reported.

Speculation has raged that the Arctic Sea, which vanished for several weeks, may have carried a secret cargo, including missile systems covertly bound for Iran.

Investigators said earlier this week that they had completed their search of the ship, which carried a stated cargo of Finnish timber for delivery to Algeria worth 1.16 million euros (USD 1.7 million) from Finland to Algeria.

The Arctic Sea's mysterious seizure in a busy European shipping lane, the huge international effort to recover it and Moscow's detention of the crew after their return to Russia have fuelled speculation of an illicit cargo.

Spain yesterday confirmed the vessel was in international waters off its Canary Islands, near the port of Las Palmas.

Eight suspects -- including Russians, Estonians and Latvians -- have been accused of hijacking the Arctic Sea, a Maltese-flagged vessel with a 15-man Russian crew, in Swedish waters in late July.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, September 20, 2009, 00:00

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