BERLIN - A German-owned ship was halted after its owners received information ù which allegedly came from Syrian government defectors ù it might be carrying weapons bound for Syria, according to a report published on Saturday.
The agent for the company chartering the ship vehemently denied it was carrying any such load.
Germany has been a strong advocate of sanctions against Syria amid a violent crackdown by President Bashar Assad's government on a popular uprising. The 27-nation European Union has imposed an arms embargo among other measures, and the German government said it was looking into Saturday's report. German weekly Der Spiegel reported that the Atlantic Cruiser was stopped in the Mediterranean after its owners were warned it was suspected to be carrying Iranian military equipment to Tartus, Syria. Without citing sources, it said "defectors in the Syrian government apparatus" were behind the alert.
Der Spiegel quoted shipping agent Torsten Lueddeke of Hamburg-based CEG Bulk Chartering as saying: "We stopped the ship after we received information on the weapons cargo."
He said the ship had been chartered to an Odessa, Ukraine-based company called White Whale Shipping and "they declared to us as cargo above all pumps and things like that," according to the report.