Iranian commandos were polite: Lone Malayali woman cadet released from Israel-linked ship

Ann Tessa Joseph with her family. Photo: Manorama Online.

Kottayam: Ann Tessa Joseph (21), a Malayali crew member of the MSC Aries cargo ship seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Saturday, said that she was treated well by Iranian commandos. Ann, who reached her house in Kottayam on Thursday, after being released by Iranian authorities following a diplomatic intervention by India, spoke to Manorama while travelling home from the airport. 

“We knew that there was tension following the conflict involving Israel, but did not expect such an attack,” said Ann. Initially, she and her colleagues did not realise what was happening. However, they gradually learnt that Iranian commandos had boarded the ship from a helicopter and captured it.

Ann Tessa Joseph. Photo: Manorama Online

Ann is now happy to be back with her parents, but she is anxious over the fate of the 16 other Indians who worked on the ship. While asked whether she would return to the same job, Ann replied, “Certainly! I love that work.”
Ann also described her life on the ship under Iranian control. “The commandos kept all the crew together. But they did not mistreat us. They had no issues with us – but only with the ship’s owners,” said Ann.

With the other crew members, Ann carried on with her regular duties on the vessel. Among the 17 Indian citizens on the ship, four were from Kerala. ”We could meet and interact with each other during mealtime,” said Ann.

The 21-year-old Ann is a native of Veluthur in Thrissur. She has been working on the ship for the past nine months as part of training. Photo: X/ India Ministry of External Affairs.

She suspects that she was released first as she was a woman. "They asked me to pack everything just an hour in advance. They must have released me as I'm a woman," she said.  Ann added that officials of India’s External Affairs Ministry assured her that her colleagues also would be released soon.

Apart from Ann, the Malayalis on the ship were, second officer P V Dhanesh (32) from Wayanad, second engineer Shyam Nath (31) from Mavoor in Kozhikode and third engineer S Sumesh (31) from Keralassery in Palakkad.
Their ship, MSC Aries, belonged to Zodiac Maritime Group, a part of Zodiac Group, owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer. The vessel was operated by the Italian-Swiss company MSC.

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